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Cinco de Mayo May not be Celebrated in Mexico, but it is Here in San Diego

Stephanie Carreto, Staff Writer

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   Cinco de Mayo: dancing, music, mariachis, drinks, a time to get together and celebrate the victory of Mexico in the Battle of Puebla against France. Although not many know Cinco de Mayo as being about this battle, it is the holiday’s true origin. Wait, what? Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day? No, of course not. So please don’t go around saying “Happy Mexican Independence Day” or you will get disappointed stares, trust me.

   Located in east-central Mexico, Puebla was a city targeted by the French, who planned on easily taking it over. The odds were stacked against General Ignacio Zaragoza and his men, with a whopping 6,000 French troops coming for the Mexican force of 2,000. According to the official History Channel website, “The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed.” This gave Mexico a great deal of courage in order to continue fighting in the Franco-Mexican War (history.com).

  This is not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day! Mexican Independence Day is on September 16, and was declared over 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. According to the official History Channel website, Cinco De Mayo became a widely-known holiday because “Chicano activists raised awareness of the holiday in the 1960s, in part because they identified with the victory of indigenous Mexicans […] over European invaders during the Battle of Puebla” (history.com).

   In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has been turned into a day to celebrate the Mexican-American population’s heritage. According to a website dedicated to recording time zones and international events, some schools even incorporate specialized lessons and interactive experiences to develop the students’ knowledge about the culture of Americans of Mexican descent. However, Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in the United States or Mexico, meaning everything remains open and public transit companies do not change their schedules (timeanddate.com).

   In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a somewhat small holiday, mostly celebrated in Puebla. Quite a few festivities are planned, such as military parades and reenactments of the battle. Nevertheless, many Mexicans do not participate in Cinco de Mayo celebrations and go about their day without much thought (timeanddate.com).

   Senior Ely Sanchez commented, “It is a special day because it was such an important win for Mexico, but my family and I don’t celebrate it. We don’t have parties or go out to eat or anything like that.”

   In San Diego, there are is an abundance of events planned for Cinco de Mayo, Old Town being one of the greatest hosts in the city. As stated on the official site of Old Town dedicated to Cinco de Mayo, there are lowrider lanes and auto showcases, lucha libre matches, food, drinks, and live entertainment. Don’t be shy and go check it out. It runs Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6 this year (cincodemayooldtown.com).

   Want to see more Mexican heritage celebrated throughout San Diego? Well, in line with San Diego’s official events website, fun ranges from events like the Fiesta de Reyes Cinco de Mayo Folklorico Festival in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to lively and entertaining events such as music, dance, and crafts in Balboa Park. Also, check out Chicano Park, home to over 80 paintings that span seven acres, the largest concentration of Chicano murals in the world (sandiego.org).

   If you like celebrating Cinco de Mayo, go for it! Learn about Mexican heritage through music, dances, food, and so much more while you’re at it. You won’t regret it, trust me.

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Cinco de Mayo May not be Celebrated in Mexico, but it is Here in San Diego