Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cinco de Mayo

In the minds of most Anglo Americans, Cinco de Mayo is recognized as a day of importantance in the Latino community. Most assume it is Mexico's version of Independence Day.

In reality, the day when Mexico declared its independence from mother Spain is midnight, the 15th of September, 1810. Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Althought the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves of any foreign intervention. Especially those from imperialist states bent on world conquest.
Cinco de Mayo's history has its roots in the French Occupation of Mexico. The French occupation took shape in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. With this war, Mexico entered a period of national crisis during the 1850's. Years of not only fighting the Americans but also a Civil War, had left Mexico devastated and bankrupt.

In the United States, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to be known as simply "5 de Mayo" and unfortunately, over, the years Cinco de Mayo has become very commercialized and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Oddly enough, Cinco de Mayo has become more of Chicano holiday than a Mexican one. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on a much larger scale here in the United States than it is in Mexico. People of Mexican descent in the United States celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, folklorico dancing and other types of festive activities.

More info can be found at the following link:

I am afraid that this day is now, more identified with Corona than with courage. But, for those of us who are working with Mexican-descent youth and families, it is important to look for any and all opportunities to affirm our culture, and to recognize that our nation is filled with many influences from South of the boarder that today, impact mainstream culture in significant ways.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!


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