Happy Cinco De Mayo! ” Que?”

Posted: May 5, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

“Happy Cinco De Mayo” I said to my Mexican friends. “Que? they said, looking at me quizzically. “That’s a Gringo holiday.” they all said and laughed. So of course I googled it and here’s what I found. It may surprise you.

The 5th of May has become known worldwide as “Cinco De Mayo” — the Mexican holiday that gives everyone an excuse to munch on guacamole and tacos and down one too many margaritas. But there’s more to the celebration than binge-drinking and consuming Mexican food. In fact, the holiday isn’t as important in Mexico as it is portrayed around the world. Here are six things to know about the history and origin of Cinco De Mayo:

1. It is not the Mexican Independence Day. Cinco de Mayo is mistaken to be the Mexican independence day, but it’s not. In fact, it’s almost 50 years after the original Cinco de Mayo. The real Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16, 1810.

2. It celebrates the victory over the French. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the day (May 5, 1862) when an outnumbered Mexican army of 4,500 Mexican troops defeated the well-equipped French forces at the battle of Puebla. This prevented the French army invading Mexico.

3. Mexican Holiday or Marketing Magic? The holiday Cinco de Mayo may not have been made by Hallmark, but that doesn’t mean it’s real either. It became popular in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s by Chicano activists. The activists reportedly identified with the victory of the Mexican Indian and mestizo peoples triumph over European conquest.

4. It’s celebrated more in the U.S. Most of the Cinco de Mayo festivities take place far away from Mexico. Daily Mail reports that the festival is one of the largest Latino festivals in the United States, with over 120 official U.S. celebrations in over 21 states.

5. Kansas tried setting a chihuahua record to commemorate the holiday. In 2012, Kansas City started its own Cinco De Mayo tradition with its inaugural Cinco de Mayo Chihuahua parade. The goal of the parade was to break the Guinness World Record for a dog parade. Five hundred dogs showed up in costume to participate.

6. Meanwhile, Portland, Oregon, tried to set a sombrero record. The Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association hoped to set a world record for most sombreros on Cinco de Mayo. They had over 1,000 people help set the Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of People Wearing Sombreros.

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