Cinco de Mayo! Ask any American and they know what that is! Why, that’s the day where we celebrate Mexican Independence from Spain! #Wrong #September Wait, you mean that’s not it? It’s gotta be something important in Mexico! #Wrong They celebrate it as much as we do… right? #NotReally Then what’s the deal here?
Cinco de Mayo (Literally “The Fifth of May”) is a celebration of the Mexican Army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The most obvious question would usually be if that is wrong, because France is usually on the receiving end of an invasion. #ThatsThe20thCentury Its correct, France invaded Mexico in 1861. Now, why would everyone’s favorite pastry makers invade the land of burritos and tequila? #IGotBadNewsForYouAboutBurritos
The French invasion was really over war debt repayments. Starting with the Mexican-American War, the Mexican Treasury began borrowing money from the British, Spanish and French. Between 1858-1861, Mexico found itself in a brutal civil war that pitted the Conservatives against the Liberals over a number of issues, on of which was the Catholic Church’s presence in Mexico. The Liberals won, the Catholic Church was gutted of power in Mexico, but the Mexicans found themselves a few pesos short of being able to repay their debts. The Mexican President Benito Juarez decided that Mexico would not pay back any of its debts for three years. Europes response? The British, Spanish and French sent fleets to the major Mexican port of Veracruz and politely requested that they start paying up.
The British and Spanish hammered out an agreement with the Mexicans and sailed on home. The French? They thought this would be a great time to start recolonizing Latin America. They began their march in Veracruz and began working their way towards Mexico City. The Mexican Army decided to make a stand in Puebla with their whopping huge force of 4,000 poorly equipped men against the 8,000-man elite French soldiers. #StopLaughing #TheyUsedToBeGood The battle should have been a brief speed bump on the way to Mexico City, but instead, the Mexicans took the French behind the woodshed. We’re not talking a minor victory. We’re talking a straight up zombie stomping, and the French, well, acted like the French. The celebrations were short lived though, as the rest of the French Army showed up the next year and rolled over the Mexicans like a fresh tortilla.
So why isn’t Mexico still owned by the French? Because the American Civil War ended in 1865. One of the first things the US did was to start funneling money, training and equipment to the guerrillas holding out against the French in Mexico. When that didn’t work in convincing the French to leave, the Americans pointed out that we had well trained troops that were getting quite bored after not killing anybody for a few years, and that we had ships covered in steel, and we were also RIGHT THERE. The French got the hint. The Prussians were also getting feisty in Europe, so the French decided that it was time to go home. As they retreated, the Mexican guerillas surged out of the mountains and managed to capture the French “Emperor” Maxmillian I. Maximillian I had been a little less than generous in his ruling of the Mexicans, and they treated him fairly as well. They shot him. A lot. #AtLeast15 #SomeMayHaveReloaded
Now that we’ve established that Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of a battle that the Mexicans won, in a war that they lost, now we get to why the gringos celebrate it. There were a lot of Mexicans in California in the late 19th Century, and the Mexican victory in Puebla was a point of national pride. #AndShouldBe As those very Mexicans became American citizens, they still carried on the tradition of celebrating the victory, although it was usually a reserved affair. Then the gringos got a hold of it in the 1980s. #Appropriation Marketers were looking for a way to increase sales, particularly for their lines of beer like Corona. They decided on Cinco de Mayo because it was kind of catchy, and the Mexicans didn’t really have a lot of things to celebrate since they had pretty much been in one giant civil war for their first century of existence.
Basically, Cinco de Mayo is a gringo celebration of the birth of the Corona Christmas commercial.