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Cinco de Mayo Trivia and History to Amaze Your Friends Today

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While having Cinco de Mayo on a Sunday it not ideal, many will still get out and celebrate, even if it means a margarita at brunch.  A lot of people did their celebrating Saturday night, but many do not know exactly what Cinco de Mayo is all about. 

To save you time, and to give you some fun facts that could amaze your friends, or maybe win you a free shot of Cabo Wabo, I have found these tidbits from PurpleTrail.com:

When is Cinco de Mayo? Cinco de Mayo means 5th of May in Spanish. This day is normally confused with Mexican Independence Day (el Dieciseis de Septiembre) which is celebrated on 16th of September. Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of a battle that took place between the Mexicans and the French in 1862. It is celebrated on May 5th every year.

Why is Cinco de Mayo celebrated? This day marks the victory of a small, poorly armed force of around 4,500 soldiers over the French invasion of a well-armed, professional army led by Napoleon III that had about 8,000 soldiers. This battle is popularly known as the legendary Battle of Puebla. The battle lasted for 4 hours and ended in the victory of the small Mexican army under Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza. So Cinco de mayo is hugely celebrated with pomp , gaiety and fiestas in the traditional Mexican style.

What is the importance of Battle of Puebla? The battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862 . This battle marks a turning point in Mexican national pride. They won the battle over huge French troops. This victory made the Mexican people very happy, and helped create a feeling of national unity. Puebla is 100 miles east of Mexico City. The Mexican forces were made up of untrained commoners. The “Batalla de Puebla” became a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism.

Do you know how and when Cinco de mayo celebration started in the US? On 24th August 1821, Mexico officially declared its independence from Spain invasion. This holiday mainly started in the year 1967 when a group of California State University students decided to hold the first Cinco de Mayo commemoration in the United States. They did this because they felt there was no Chicano holiday and therefore thought of starting this tradition. They wanted something to recapture their history and decided that the Battle of Puebla was symbolic. This helped them to connect it to their struggle for the formation of a Chicano Studies program at the university.

How is Cinco de mayo celebrated? Cinco de mayo is celebrated with festivals and fiestas. Parades usually start moving about 11 o’clock. The parades consist of marchers dressed as French and Mexican generals with soldiers following, armed like the original freedom fighters with machetes and old-fashioned rifles. Paraders wearing skirts and flowery hats represent the women (soldaderos) who traveled with the army to cook and care for the men. Those portraying French soldiers carry knapsacks with wine bottles sticking out of them. At mid-afternoon the “battle” begins in the plaza. Rifles and cannon roar, there is much smoke and shouting, and at nightfall, the Mexican and French generals meet face-to-face for a sword battle. The Mexican general, of course, wins. The fiesta also includes speeches by government officials. And since it is a fiesta there are lots of games and lively dances , mariachi music, traditional foods, bullfights, and colorful cinco de mayo decorations. At night there are pinatas for the children and the celebration ends with beautiful displays of fireworks. People wear clothes of red and green, the colors of the Mexican flag.

Why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in U.S? The reason of celebrating Cinco de Mayo on such a large scale in United States is firstly, because if had not been for the victory, France would have aided the South in the American Civil War and this would have an impact on the war. Secondly Chicanos celebrates this day in appreciation of its cultural and historical significance. And lastly General Ignacio Zaragosa was born in Texas when it was still part of Mexico and is considered to be a Chicano hero. However, today this holiday is more of a celebration of Mexican culture, food, music and beverage unique to Mexico.

Why is Cinco de Mayo So Important for Americans? In addition to its importance in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is significant to all Americans because it marks the last time that any foreign power has acted the aggressor on North American soil.

Did you know “Festival de Fiesta Broadway” is worlds largest Cinco de Mayo event? Yes! the largest Cinco de Mayo event in the world is held in Los Angeles, California, where more than 600,000 people celebrate with music and food. The whole event is called Festival de Fiesta Broadway. Two other big festival are held far from Mexico, in Denver, Colorado, and St Pauls, Minnesota, but they draw hundreds of thousands of participants.

Other Interesting Mexico and Cinco de Mayo Trivia:

  • Mexican community celebrates more than 365 festivals each year. Cinco de mayo is one of them.
  • Did you know Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
  • Around 28.3 million of U.S. residents were of Mexican origin in 2006. These residents constituted 9 percent of the nations total population and 64 percent of the Hispanic population.
  • Approximately 630,000 of Mexican-Americans are U.S. military veterans.
  • The Maya in Central Mexico were the first people known to harvest and use the peanut.
  • Pineapple and papayas grew wild in Mexico, and were introduced to the rest of the world by Spanish explorers
  • Around the 1860s, three American travelers began exporting resin from the Zapote Blanco tree in Mexico after they noticed that it hardened when exposed to air. The men found a way to turn it into a waxy substance, added flavors and sweeteners, and sold it in small balls for a penny apiece — calling it Adam’s Chewing Gum from New York. Today, Americans chew seven times more gum than the rest of the world.
  • Guadalajara, Mexicos second largest city, is where the Mexican Hat Dance, sombreros and mariachi music are believed to have originated.
  • The vanilla bean comes from an orchid plant discovered by Mexican Indians (they used it to add flavor to their cocoa and corn drinks.) The world’s largest crop of vanilla beans still comes from Mexico.

Do you know Mexico is sinking? Mexico’s capital, Mexico City (one of the world’s largest cities) is sinking — some of its buildings by as much as 4 to 12 inches a year. The city was once an Aztec capital on an island surrounded by a shallow lake. When the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes captured the city, he drained the lake. So Mexico City rests on soft land that continues to sink.

Do you know what is “El Castillo”? Among the many ancient pyramids in Mexico is the nine-story “El Castillo,” with a three-room temple on top and a stairway climbing each of the four sides. An amazing thing happens there every year on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes: On the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow shaped like a serpent. With the sun’s movement, this shadow slithers down the side of the pyramid. To accomplish this feat, the Mayan architects and astronomers must have used calculations of incredible precision.

Toast Mexican culture and celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style!!

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