Cinco de Mayo: Wikis


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Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo
Battle of Puebla
Observed by
Type multinational
Date May 5, 1862
  • Regional celebration in Mexico of battle victory.
  • Celebration in the United States of Mexican American culture and experiences.Only somewhat celebrated in Mexico.
  • Food, music, folkloric dancing

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a regional holiday in Mexico, primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico.[1][2] The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.[3][4]

The Battle was important for at least two reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army. "This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years."[5][6] Second, it was significant because since the Battle of Puebla no country in the Americas has been invaded by an army from another continent.[7]

Cinco de Mayo is not "an obligatory federal holiday" in Mexico, but rather a holiday that can be observed voluntarily.[8][9] While Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States (also voluntarily) and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.[10] Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day,[11] which actually is September 16 ,[12] the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico, nor is it The Day of the Dead, which occurs on November the 1st and 2nd.[13]



Benito Juarez ceased making interest payments to its main creditors[citation needed]. In response, in late 1861, France (and other European countries) under the Treaty of London (1861) attacked Mexico to try to force payment of this debt. France further decided that it would attempt to take over and occupy Mexico in what is now known as the French intervention in Mexico without the cooperation of the other European powers. The U.S. Monroe Doctrine opposed European colonization of the Americas, but at that time the American Civil War limited American ability to enforce this. France was successful at first in its invasion; however, on May 5, 1862, at the city of Puebla, Mexican forces were able to defeat an attack by the larger French army. In the Battle of Puebla, the Mexicans were led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French advance on Mexico City; a year later, the French occupied Mexico. The French occupying forces placed Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico on the throne of Mexico in 1864. The French, under U.S. pressure, eventually withdrew in 1866-1867. Maximilian was deposed by President Benito Juarez and executed, five years after the Battle of Puebla.


History of observance

Cinco de Mayo dancers greeted by President George W. Bush.

According to a paper published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture about the origin of the observance of Cinco de Mayo in the United States, the modern American focus on the people of the world that day first started in California in the 1860s in response to the resistance to French rule in Mexico.[14] The 2007 paper notes that "The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico."[14]



Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday limited primarily to the state of Puebla. There is some limited recognition of the holiday in other parts of the country.[15] For the most part the celebrations combine food, music, and dancing.

United States

Cinco de Mayo performers at the White House

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico.[14][16][17][18] The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, including César Chávez.[19] To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate pupils about its historical significance. Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklórico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles, near Olvera Street. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages,[20] foods, and music.[21][22]


Cinco de Mayo celebration in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Events tied to Cinco de Mayo also occur outside Mexico and the United States. For example, a sky-diving club near Vancouver, Canada holds a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event.[23] In the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, there is an annual Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition.[24] As far away as the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, revelers are encouraged to drink Mexican beer on May 5.[25]

Popular culture references

  • Bob Dylan's song "Isis" references the date at the very beginning by narrating the title's character marriage, with the lyrics "on the fifth day of May...".
  • The band War had a minor hit with a track called "Cinco de Mayo", from their 1982 album Outlaw.
  • Ween refers to Cinco de Mayo in the song "Buenas Tardes Amigo".
  • The waltzing song "Mexico" from Cake's Prolonging the Magic album mentions Cinco de Mayo.
  • Fighting game Art of Fighting 3: The Path of the Warrior, set in the fictional Mexican-American city of Glasshill, has one stage called "Cinco de Mayo", which draws clear inspiration from this event (this is the only stage in the game to have no background music; instead, the sound of the parade running at the stage's background serves as the stage's theme).
  • Herb Alpert recorded a song called "Cinco de Mayo", which was the B-side of his hit "Spanish Flea".[26]
  • Liz Phair included a song called "Cinco de Mayo" on her Whip-Smart album in 1994.
  • American post-hardcore band Senses Fail included a song called "Cinco de Mayo" as a bonus track for its second album Still Searching
  • 5 Second Films created a Cinco de Mayo movie called Don't Thinko de Mayo
  • In the AMC TV show Breaking Bad, Gomez (played by Steven Michael Quezada) invites Hank (played by Dean Norris) out for beers, saying that he was buying, Hank jokes, "You're buying? Holy crap. What, is it Cinco de Mayo already?"

See also


  1. ^ [1] Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  2. ^ "The anniversary of the victory is celebrated only sporadically in Mexico" - National Geographic Accessed December 4, 2007
  3. ^ National Geographic: Defeat of French forces by Mexican Army Retrived February 6, 2009.
  4. ^ Library of Congress (U.S.A.) Declaration Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  5. ^ Philadelphia News Article reporting Mexican were outnumbered 2-to-1 The Bulletin: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper, "Cinco De Mayo: Join In The Celebration On The Fifth Of May", May 7, 2009. By Cheryl VanBuskirk. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
  6. ^ PBS Reports French Army Knew No Defeat for Almost 50 Years. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  7. ^ The Philadelphia Bulletin "This was the last time any army from another continent invaded (Note: "invaded", not "attacked") the Americas." The Bulletin: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper, "Cinco De Mayo: Join In The Celebration On The Fifth Of May", May 7, 2009. By Cheryl VanBuskirk. Retrieved June 5, 2009. Note that since Cinco de Mayo no army from another continent has invaded the Americas. The War of the Falklands War, for example, was fought in the Americas but the Islands were invaded by a military from the Americas (the Argentine military). They were subsequently attacked (not invaded) by the UK. Another example, Pearl Harbor, experienced an attack, not an invasion by the Japanese. The only possible exception to the Cinco de Mayo claim above might be the brief occupation/invasion of two of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands by the Japanese military during WWII. This event, however, was so insignificant as to be virtually neglegible: the islands invaded had a total population of 12 Americans and some 45 natives, the invasion was short-lived, and the battle fought there had no notoriety other than the psychological effect on the Americans that the Japanese had invaded American territory again (Alaska was not yet a full-fledged state). In short, the military importance of this small, frozen piece of "land" was nowhere comparable to superior military significance of the Battle of Puebla.
  8. ^ List of Public and Bank Holidays in Mexico April 14, 2008. This list indicates that Cinco de Mayo is not a dia feriado obligatorio ("obligatory holiday"), but is instead a holiday that can be voluntarily observed.
  9. ^ Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in México Accessed May 5, 2009
  10. ^ Statement by Mexican Consular official Accessed May 8, 2007.
  11. ^ Adam Brooks. "Is Cinco De Mayo Really Mexico's Independence Day?". NBC 11 News. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  12. ^ [2] Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  13. ^ [3] Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Southern California Quarterly "Cinco de Mayo's First Seventy-Five Years in Alta California: From Spontaneous Behavior to Sedimented Memory, 1862 to 1937" Spring 2007 (see American observation of Cinco de Mayo started in California) accessed October 30, 2007. See also History of observance of Cinco de Mayo in United States accessed May 9, 2009.
  15. ^ "[Cinco de Mayo] is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico." Accessed May 5, 2007
  16. ^ "Cinco de Mayo has become more of [an American] holiday than a Mexican one." accessed May 5, 2007
  17. ^ "Cinco de Mayo has become a day for celebrating Mexican culture in the United States, and celebrations there easily outshine those in Mexico." Accessed May 8, 2007
  18. ^ "Today, the holiday is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico" Accessed October 30, 2007
  19. ^ In some locations with significant non-Mexican hispanic communities, such as Florida, the celebration has grown to include non-Mexicans. Accessed May 8, 2007.
  20. ^ "[Cinco de Mayo] gives us an opportunity ... to really get a jump-start on the summer beer-selling season" New York Times Business section; May 2, 2003. Accessed October 30, 2007
  21. ^ "From my perspective as a marketing professional, Cinco de Mayo has morphed into a national holiday designed by Fifth Avenue to sell alcohol and excite consumership around a party-type theme." Accessed May 5, 2007.
  22. ^ "Cinco de Mayo is not just a fiesta anymore, the gringos have taken it on as a good sales pitch." Smithsonian Institution paper Accessed May 8, 2007. "It's a commercial entry point for people who want to penetrate the Latino market," said Felix Gutierrez, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles." Accessed May 8, 2007.
  23. ^ "Cinco de Mayo Skydiving Boogie" Accessed 2008-05-05.
  24. ^ Cayman Cinco de Mayo air guitar Accessed 2008-05-05.
  25. ^ Celebration in Malta. Accessed 2008-05-05.
  26. ^ [4]

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Spanish, from cinco, five + de, of + Mayo, May

Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


Cinco de Mayo

  1. A national celebration in Mexico, commemorating the victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French expeditionary forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, also celebrated widely by immigrants living in the United States.


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