The Meaning Behind Cinco de Mayo

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion, DEI

Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May, is a significant Mexican holiday that is often misunderstood outside of Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day (which is celebrated on September 16). Instead, it commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla.

At the time, Mexico was facing financial hardships and was unable to pay its debts to European countries, including France. In response, France, under Napoleon III, decided to invade Mexico to establish a French-friendly government and to create a foothold in the Americas. The French army, considered one of the strongest in the world at the time, was expected to easily defeat the Mexican army.

However, the Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, achieved a decisive victory in Puebla, despite being significantly outnumbered and outgunned. The victory was a morale boost for Mexico and symbolized the resilience and determination of the Mexican people in the face of adversity.

While the Battle of Puebla was a significant event, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more widely in the United States than in Mexico. In the U.S., the holiday has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, with parades, parties, music, dance, and traditional Mexican food.

Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Mexico and to recognize the contributions of Mexican-Americans to the United States. It is also a reminder of the importance of resilience, unity, and the fight for freedom and independence.

As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, let us remember the historical significance of this day and honor the spirit of the Mexican people who stood against adversity and fought for their freedom.