All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

Cinco+de+Mayo
Back to Article
Back to Article

All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Aubree Peterson-Spanard, Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






On Saturday America celebrated Mexican culture with parades, parties, traditional foods, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing, and more. Some people celebrated early, like the Spanish classes here at Obama, each of which had its own fiesta with food and music. But why do we do this? I mean, what’s so special about the 5th of May that we made it a national holiday? Most people don’t know the answer to this, but now you’re about to find out! Here it is:

It all started in 1861 when a man named Benito Juárez was elected Mexico’s president. The country was in financial ruin and the debts to Britain, Spain, and France grew as an effect. The former two negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their threatening troops from Veracruz. But France, ruled by Napoleon III at the time, decided to make an empire out of Mexican territory. A heavily armed French fleet with a large amount of troops landed at Veracruz in late 1861 and drove the President and his government into retreat.

Believing they would win easily, French General Charles Latrille de Lorencez led 6,000 troops in an attack on Puebla de Los Angeles. President Juárez, now stationed in the north, gathered up 2,000 loyal men and sent them to defend the small town in eastern-central Mexico. The ragtag force, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, was poorly supplied and vastly outnumbered. Yet they willingly fortified the town and prepared for the French attack.

So on May 5, 1862, General Lorencez rounded up his troops and attacked the city of Puebla from daybreak to early evening. In the end, the French retreated. They had lost almost 500 soldiers in the battle, compared to the less than 100 Mexicans who had lost their lives. It was more of a symbolic victory than a strategic one, but it bolstered the Mexican moral and their resistance movement. And so, in 1867 – thanks in part to the United States’s political pressure and military support – France finally withdrew its forces. The city of Puebla de Los Angeles was renamed for its defender General Zaragoza, who died of typhoid fever a few months after his historic victory there.

It’s strange to know that, after all that, the country as a whole doesn’t see Cinco de Mayo as a national holiday. Various places around Mexico do celebrate it, and of course the biggest is in the state of Puebla where the battle occurred. Its festivities include parades, recreations of the battle, and other activities.

And then when you look to the U.S., we see it as a full-fledged holiday, where banks, stores, and offices are closed early and/or fully. We love celebrating Mexican culture (especially with food!) on this day, yet most of us don’t know the actual events that took place for it to happen. In fact, many people mistake Cinco de Mayo as Mexico’s Independence Day or the Day of the Dead. But their independence day was September 16th in 1810, more than 50 years before the battle of Puebla. Meanwhile, Dia de Los Muertos is observed from October 31-November 2. Now you know the history of the 5th of May and its importance. Make sure to spread the word!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Navigate Left
  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Reflecting on the Life of Jonathan Freeman

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Author, Harvard Professor Jill Lepore on the Historical Record and the Direction of the Future

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    An Interview with Mayor Marita Garrett

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    Academics

    Movie Reviews: Keeping Lessons from History Alive

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    Senior Of The Week

    Senior of the Week: Atavia Carter

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Speaker Series: Producer, Designer, DJ on Making Money with Media

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    LeadYoung Initiative Week 5: Mahika Halepete

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Post-Gazette Executive Editor to Step Down

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette News Editor Lillian Thomas Visits Obama!

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    LeadYoung Initiative Week 4: Sarah Toumi

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    Senior Of The Week

    Senior of the Week: The Brain of a Boxer (Laron Rockymore)

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    LeadYoung Initiative Week 3: Ara Kusuma

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    What It’s like to Intern for a Political Candidate

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Junior Class Launching Toy Drive

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Senior of the Week: Mikaela DeCarlo

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    LeadYoung Initiative Week 2: Peyton Klein

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    Student Life

    Obama Shreds Hate with the Pittsburgh Pirates

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    LeadYoung Initiative Week 1: Joshua Williams

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Netflix Suggestions- Options for a Rainy Day

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Teacher Feature: Ms. Stovash

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    The Problem With School Bus Stops

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    The Reality of Gun Violence

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Proud Daughter of Holocaust Survivor Gives Thoughts On the Synagogue Shooting

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    U.S. Senator Bob Casey Answers Our Questions

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    Sports

    James Conner

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    Entertainment

    Pennsylvania Hex

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    School Board Votes Down Guns for Police Officers: An Inside Look

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Obama Students Meet With CMU Professors

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    The Worst Things Bring out the Best of People

  • All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo

    All Posts

    Pittsburgh Grieves for the Dead

Navigate Right
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies
All You Need to Know About… Cinco de Mayo