Cinco de Mayo: History of a Century-old Tradition

Shaun Rabot, Sports Editor

   Cinco de Mayo, translated to the fifth of May, is a Mexican holiday that commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla during the Second French Intervention. 

   In the mid-1800s, Mexico was in a large financial debt to European governments, according to the History Channel’s website. As a response to this, France, Britain, and Spain all sent forces to Mexico to demand their payment. After negotiations, Britain and Spain returned to their countries while France used this opportunity to attack Mexico. On May 5, 1862, six thousand French troops were sent to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico to which Mexico responded with a measly two thousand soldiers to try and fight back. In the end, Mexico succeeded. This victory boosted Mexico’s morale and provided hope to the country. They ultimately won the war thanks to America’s aid in 1867  (

   Cinco de Mayo is often confused for Mexico’s Independence Day, which was actually 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. Mexico’s Independence Day falls on September 27 and celebrates Mexico becoming an independent country.

   Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated here in the United States with large parades and Mexican food. Mexican culture is greatly appreciated during this time. Although highly popular in America, only certain regions of Mexico actually celebrate the occasion. In the state of Puebla, where the battle took place, there are military parades, recreations and reenactments of the Battle of Puebla, and other festivities (

   According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, some Mexican immigrants use this day to spread information about their Mexican heritage and encourage pride in their culture ( Senior Nico Villalobos said, “This year to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I’m going to spend time with my family at my grandma’s house. We’re gonna eat homemade tacos and mole and we’re probably going to dance.”

   Senior Josh Harris is doing something similar to Villalobos. He said, “This year, my family and family’s friends are going to have a huge party. There’s gonna be a lot of drinks and traditional Mexican food along with music.”

   This year, if you have ever wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, there is a perfect opportunity for you. From April 30 to May 1, there is going to be a family-friendly Cinco de Mayo fiesta in Old Town, San Diego. There you will find live music, tons of Mexican food stands, and booths with homemade arts and crafts. Not only is this event free to attend but it is a good chance to appreciate Mexican culture (   

   From mariachi music to tasty meals, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration that anyone can take part in. Whether you are celebrating the Battle of Puebla or just want to celebrate Mexican culture, Cinco de Mayo is the perfect time to do so.