When seen in military history, the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, was a relatively minor engagement. Mexican patriots mining the creeks & streams of California’s gold rush of Tuolumne County were promptly informed of the Mexican triumph.
The Mexican government, under Benito Juarez, designated the anniversary of the fight to be a national holiday in honor of the French loss at the hands of Mexico’s smaller, rag-tag army.
A century and a half after the fight, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by two countries, Mexico and the United States.
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Independence Day Is Not the Same Thing
Announcing the holiday was done early in Mexico, less than a week after Mexico’s triumph in the war against France, which bolstered Mexican determination for the next five years of conflict.
Not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, September 16, the most significant festival in Mexico.
Puebla, the city in Mexico where the battle took place, commemorates the day with parades, school closings, and other festivities.
California and Western celebrations
For Mexicans in California, the triumph was a source of pride, just as it was for Mexicans during the war. Non-Anglos faced a slew of discriminatory measures, including a Foreign Miner’s Tax, while taking advantage of the Gold Rush’s many prospects.
From Tuolumne County to other parts of California and the western United States, where there was a high concentration of Mexican residents, the tradition of celebrating Cinco de Mayo lasted for decades after its inception.
A Bigger Celebration and Corporate Sponsorship
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The present degree of celebration in the United States seems at odds with these situations. What’s going on?
New generation activists and researchers of Latino ancestry in the 1960s and 1970s sparked an increase of interest in Hispanic heritage, which led to the holiday’s expansion from the west coast into the rest of the nation.
So many Californian towns gathered together to celebrate the occasion this year: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Boston, New York City, Houston, and many more.
Cinco de Mayo proponents included beer business executives, who wanted to use the holiday as a vehicle to promote to people of all ethnicities, regardless of where they lived.
While the holiday’s popularity has grown, it’s essential to remember that it’s also a time to learn more about the celebration’s history, gastronomy, and culture, rather than simply drinking Mexican beer.