Cinco de Mayo?

Completely off-topic, but I had to throw this little rant somewhere:

When I first came to Canada I expected to find lots of people with the ranchero-in-the-desert stereotypes of my home country (not that Mexicans are any better when it comes to Canadian stereotypes, by the way). What I didn’t expect was to have May 5th associated with Mexican festivities, here and in the U.S.

So, a clarification for my non-Mexican friends:

Yes, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday, but a minor one. Our equivalent to the U.S. 4th of July, or to Canada’s Canada Day, is our Independence Day –September 16th.

May 5th is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, when the Mexicans unexpectedly held off invading French forces. Mexico won the battle, but lost the war, and the occupying French forces installed a (short-lived) Empire.

It’s really bizarre to see the “wrong” holiday being celebrated out of Mexico. My theory is that it was promoted in the U.S. because it’s not about Mexican independence, but about beating the French –and we all know about that weird American obsession with bringing France down.

About Jorge Aranda

I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the SEGAL and CHISEL labs in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Victoria.
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6 Responses to Cinco de Mayo?

  1. leo says:

    You have no idea of how may times I have explained this to people here in NY too. You forgot to mention my favorite fact about it. This war was called “La Guerra de los Pasteles” (The War of the Pastries).

  2. Jorge says:

    Such a name could only come from a war between France and Mexico.

  3. mcyclops says:

    La Guerra de los pasteles had place between 1838 and 1839 and was a siege of Veracruz. There was tensions between France and Mexico, and because one of the tension’s motives was that one French bakery in Mexico City was owned money from Santa Ana’s troops gave origin to the name.

    The French Intervention was between 1862 and 1867, while Benito Juárez was in office, and is not related to the first struggle. The former was a siege for money, the latest a full invasion.

  4. leo says:

    Turns out that you are right mcyclops. And here is a fun fact for you Jorge, the French forces withdrew the 9th of March of 1839.

    By the way, I got my facts wrong from a Mexican teacher while on elementary school in Mexico… you gotta love it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastry_War

  5. Jorge says:

    It’s a bit bothersome that both of our conflicts with the French come from the Mexican government being so much of a deadbeat to them.

  6. Pingback: More Cinco de Mayo « Catenary

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