Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a Mexican holiday widely celebrated in the United States since the late 1800s, particularly in California and other southwestern states with substantial Mexican-American populations. The holiday is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day – the most important national holiday in Mexico – which is celebrated on September 16.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862 where Mexico defeated the French. During the battle, the French army of 8,000 attacked the poorly equipped Mexican army of 4,000. On May 5, 1862, the Mexicans decisively defeated the French army. The victory represented a significant morale boost to the Mexican army and the Mexican people at large and helped establish a national unity and patriotism. Cinco de Mayo celebrations began the following year in 1863.
While there is certainly reason to celebrate, how we celebrate has become a bit lost in translation. Today, celebrations in the United States typically center on the party aspect of the holiday. However, celebrations should also focus on Mexican culture and heritage, rather than solely on commercialized bases that have grown popular in recent years.
As we honor this historic day as a firm, PB&W encourages everyone to celebrate by participating in and enjoying any or all of the following:
- Read a book or article about the Battle of Puebla
- Engage with Mexican art and culture
- Eat authentic Mexican food
- Support Mexican businesses
- Attend a celebration (see link for public events scheduled in Los Angeles)