Hold on to your sombreros, Cinco de Mayo is here! It’s everyone’s favorite Mexican-
American (well, mostly American) holiday for Latinos and gringos alike. Cinco de Mayo
is the perfect time to throw a fiesta, take a baseball bat to a piñata, throw some meat
on the asada, and since this is an American holiday too, drink an enjoyable yet prudent
amount of cerveza. And even though historically our two countries haven’t always gotten
along, it’s a good opportunity to study up of the history and culture of our southern
neighbor. Of course, Cinco de Mayo is also a good time to think of your amigos by
sending them a greeting or perhaps going out for a burrito.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the defeat of the French army in Mexico in 1862 on (you
guessed it) May 5. Irate at the prospect of being forced to eat croissants and wear berets
all the time, Mexicans in the city of Puebla took up arms against the French invaders,
and won a decisive victory. Despite ultimately succumbing to French rule, the Mexican
victory diverted their resources and ensured that their stay would be short. This victory
was important for the United States as well since it kept the French from taking a side in
the Civil war; as difficult is it is to imagine, the haut couture French were on the verge of
supporting the decisively not haut couture Confederacy. Today, the holiday is not widely
celebrated in Mexico outside of Puebla, but is a huge deal throughout the United States.
It is very common to meet with family or organize parties, many of which feature recipes
unique to Cinco de Mayo. For relatives who don’t live nearby, many people choose to
send a card with Cinco de Mayo-themed images or a gift; Cinco de Mayo But the day is
enjoyable even for people with no family nearby, because after all, they could be eating
quiche instead of quesadillas.