THURSDAY, MAY 5: Cue the Mexican music and get ready to celebrate: It’s Cinco de Mayo! It was on this date in 1862 that a poor Mexican army defeated a French force twice its size under the rule of Napoleon III. (History.com has more.)
Cinco de Mayo may not be Mexico’s Independence Day, but its creation by Latinos living in the U.S. ensured it a permanent place in American culture. When America was in the midst of a Civil War, Mexicans in California were celebrating the ability to defend freedom—surely a noble cause that brought hope in a war-torn United States. (Wikipedia has details.)
Outside of the United States, Cinco de Mayo events are held in Puebla, Mexico—the location where the battle took place—and even in Canada, Malta and the Cayman Islands. Whether embracing Mexican culture with traditional music and dances or by drinking a Mexican beer, world citizens celebrate everything from the Mexican victory to Mexico’s Virgin of Guadalupe, a Catholic icon. According to the Journal of America Culture, more than 150 Cinco de Mayo events are held annually. (Kids—get craft ideas and more at Kaboose.)
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.