The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Cinco things you didn’t know about Cinco de Mayo


Videos by Avni Prasad and Aditya Pimplaskar

Spanish 2 teacher Norma Abarca holds a Cinco de Mayo fiesta in her seventh period class. Take a look at why this holiday is significant and how it is celebrated.

Cinco de Mayo! Mexican Independence Day, right?

Actually, it isn’t.  It’s okay though, that’s a common misconception. If you’re actually looking to celebrate Mexico’s Independence from her Spanish oppressors, think about saving the chips and salsa for Sept. 16, the day that Father Miguel Hidalgo, leader of the Mexican War of Independence, issued his famous call to arms to overthrow the Spanish.

Wait. So what exactly does it celebrate, then?

Basically, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Spain, France and Great Britain had all tried to invade in late 1862, but both Britain and Spain had pulled out within about six months. With the American Civil War keeping the U.S. occupied up in the North, France figured that it’d be able to take advantage of all the chaos and invade a previously war-torn Mexico.

They were wrong. While the French succeeded in the early bits, eventually a small Mexican group of soldiers managed to defeat a larger group of Frenchmen, the type of classic underdog story we usually turn into holidays for the masses.

Maybe it’s not Independence Day, but is it actually a big deal in Mexico?

Shockingly, Mexicans actually celebrate their independence as a tad bit more than some random victory against the French. Still, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with political speeches and battle reenactments, with the biggest celebrations taking place in the city of Puebla, where the victory occurred. The celebrations are actually way more important for Mexicans outside of Mexico, especially for those who live in the U.S.

So why do we celebrate it here in the U.S.?

Well, there’s a couple reasons for that. The first is that Ignacio Zaragoza, the commander of the Spanish forces at Puebla, was born in Texas. In 1999, Zaragoza’s hometown Goliad, Texas was declared the official place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by the Texas Senate. While the holiday was at first largely unknown to most of America, Mexican-American activists of the 1960s raised its profile as a way to celebrate pride as a community.

…And, well, it’s also great for alcohol marketing, which definitely takes advantage of the opportunity. According to CNN, Cinco de Mayo in 2014 was the biggest non-winter drinking day and is one of the top five drinking days of the year.

Any last fun facts?

Sure! The California Avocado Commission (I didn’t believe it was real either) reports that Americans eat 175 million avocados on Cinco de Mayo. And if you feel like getting into the spirit, Chipotle released their guacamole recipe a couple days ago, so knock yourself out!

Click through the gallery below to see more of 7th period’s Cinco de Mayo party. Photos by Avni Prasad and Aditya Pimplaskar.

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