Cinco de Mayo 101

Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

First off, if you are like me and don’t speak a word of Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means “the fifth of May.”

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day which is celebrated on September 16th, and occurred decades before the events commemorated by Cinco de Mayo.

So what exactly is Cinco de Mayo?

May 5th celebrates the surprise victory of Mexican soldiers over a powerful French army at the Battle of Puebla in May of 1862. France’s attempt to overtake Mexico did not end with the Battle of Puebla: the French military eventually took over Mexico City and sent the Mexican government into exile. But the Cinco de Mayo victory became a source of inspiration for Mexicans during the French occupation.

It’s also a rather low-key holiday in Mexico, and is actually an optional national holiday: students get the day off from school, but whether banks and government offices remain open varies from state to state.

Now let’s talk some fun facts;

  • Piñata, a popular feature at Cinco de Mayo celebrations, once had a religious significance. The Mexican Catholic interpretation of the piñata rested on the struggle of man against temptation, with the piñata’s seven points representing the seven deadly sins.
  • Mariachi music began as a regional folk style in central Mexico and was played only with string instruments and musicians dressed in the traditional outfits of peasant farmers.
  • Americans take the holiday more seriously than Mexicans and did you know the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo party takes place in Los Angeles?
  • In Chandler, Arizona, the day is celebrated with Chihuahua races in which two dogs are crowned King and Queen.
  • Americans consume 81 million avocados every Cinco de Mayo.

So why am I talking about a Mexican Celebration in Nigeria?
Well, because I would grab any excuse to drink tequila shots, frozen margaritas and stuff my face with tacos and churros. This should be reason enough for you too, so go out and be merry!


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