Cinco de Mayo is just one month away! We all know it's a fun-filled celebration, but exactly what is the holiday? Here are some facts and myths on this festive holiday, from Wikipedia:
Cinco de Mayo ("5th of May" in English) is primarily a regional and not an obligatory federal holiday in Mexico. The date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.
A common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day; Mexico's Independence Day is actually September 16 (dieciséis de septiembre in Spanish), which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.
The holiday commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
According to a paper published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, about the origin of the observance of Cinco de Mayo in the United States, the modern American focus on that day first started in California in the 1860s in response to the resistance to French rule in Mexico. The paper notes that "The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico."
The holiday of Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday in Mexico, celebrated in the state of Puebla. There is some limited recognition of the holiday in other parts of the country. For the most part the celebrations combine food, music and dancing.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico.Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, and music.
The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry, respectively. As a result, the holiday is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origins, especially in cities and states where there is a large population of Mexican ancestry.
Although it is not an official holiday, many cities with large populations of Mexican ancestry honor the day as a symbolic representation of Mexican pride and as a representation of a culture that blends both Mexican and American roots. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgin de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, such as César Chávez.
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