Why Cinco De Mayo Is More American Than Mexican
Mexican Independence Day is September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico. In fact, it’s not really celebrated anywhere outside of the state of Puebla. Why then is it so popular here in the United States? Jarred Lujan helps to explain.
Cinco De Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is actually the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla in 1862 fought against the French Empire. Shortly after invading Mexico at Veracruz, superiorly equipped and trained French forces moved to Puebla with an army of 8,000 to meet a Mexican army about half that size. French rout? Wrong.
The Mexicans turned back one of the historically largest and efficient European powers at Puebla, inspiring the country considering Mexico’s history of foreign intervention. The French Empire invaded over unpaid debts, but it’s pretty well documented that Napoleon III wanted to turn Mexico into an extension of the French Empire.
Mexico won it’s independence only 40 years prior (1821) after 300 years of Spanish rule. It spent those years fighting foreign powers such as Spain, France and the United States set on exploiting its people and resources.
Also, like most newly freed colonies, it was regularly at war with itself over its own national identity. In 1862, France invaded a bitterly divided, tired, poor nation. It was truly a remarkable victory for the Mexican army and it’s people.
The Chicano Movement
The Chicano Movement was an extension of the Mexican-American civil rights movement of the 1960s with the stated goal of achieving Mexican American empowerment It’s also the answer to why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated much more here than in Mexico. The Chicano Movement introduced it into American culture as early as the 1940s though the holiday didn’t gain “mainstream” popularity until about the 1980s.
Cinco de Mayo is Mexican American which means…it’s American. These Americans celebrating Mexican Independence Day would not make a whole lot of sense nationality wise though it does have cultural significance to many Mexican Americans. Furthermore, the holiday is a reminder of the resiliency of Mexican; and dare I say all Latinx people in understanding their history of rejection of colonial identity to maintain the ties to their people’s shared culture and history.
Cinco de Mayo isn’t really a Mexican holiday. It’s an American celebration of Latinx culture.