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Cinco de Mayo - A Day of Celebration....But Did You Know....?

May 5, 2012

Independence Day in Mexico? No, that is September 16, the day in 1810 when the priest Miguel Hildalgo y Costilla ordered the arrest of Dolores' native Spaniards and later declared "Mexicanos, Viva Mexico!"

No, the Cinco de Mayo celebration is all about defeating the French at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe in the state of Puebla. This hard fought battle is now called The Battle of Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is widely celebrated throughout the state of Puebla as the day Mexico defeated France in 1862.

In 1862, Napoleon III sent 6,500 well outfitted members of the French army to Mexico to collect debts owed to France by Mexico when Mexico decided to not pay its obligations. France was in an expansionist mode and decided to try to take over Mexico. Recall, Mexico had gained its independence from Spain in 1812. During this battle near Puebla in 1862, the French army was repelled by a passionate, but ill-equipped Mexican militia force that was estimated to be about 4,500 men.

The French forces landed in Veracruz and were intending to march the 600 miles to Mexico City. There, Napoleon III would instill his cousin, Archduke Maximilian of Austria as ruler of Mexico. At least that was the plan.

On their way to Mexico City, the French army encountered strong resistance near Puebla. The smaller band of Mexican militia was able to stop the French from proceeding to Mexico City. This victory is widely celebrated throughout the state of Puebla on May 5 each year.

Later in 1862, Napoleon III sent a larger force to accomplish what the smaller one could not. Thirty thousand more troops invaded Mexico. In 1864, the French were finally able to depose the Mexican army, take over Mexico City and install Maximilian as the ruler of Mexico.

The French rule was short lived. Maximilian was executed by the Mexicans in 1867 and local rule was restored.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated throughout the state of Puebla and in US cities with high populations of people with Mexican heritage. It has become a celebration of Mexican culture, food, music, beverage and customs unique to Mexico.

There are many sources of information about the origins of Cinco de Mayo. The source for our comments here can be found on http://www.mexonline.com/cinco-de-mayo.htm.

We intend to celebrate with friends this afternoon by sharing our own versions of enchiladas, fajitas, cerveza, margaritas and tequila. How about you?

Happy Cinco de Mayo!