Every year on the 5th of May American revelers disperse to their favorite cantina to indulge in the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. They dive into massive spreads of delectable tacos, burritos, and guacamole, they drain ice-cold cervezas, they move their hips to the intoxicating rhythms of mariachi. But why? Read on to understand the traditions behind this spring celebration.
The tradition of Cinco de Mayo finds its roots, quite obviously, in Mexico, specifically in the state of Puebla, located in East-Central Mexico. In the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 and the Reform War of 1858-1861, Mexico was left nearly bankrupt, and the country was forced to stop payment on all foreign debts. In response the French army occupied the country and began moving North toward Mexico City. The Mexican people, unsurprisingly, were not overjoyed at the idea of occupation.
It was in Puebla on May 5, 1862 that the French encountered the Mexican Army of Puebla. The Mexican Army was much smaller and poorly equipped compared to the French, however they bravely held their ground and crushed the French opposition. While the war between the two countries would rage on until 1866, this victory was a great source of pride for the Mexican people and continues to represent perseverance, grit, and determination in the face of difficulty.
Cinco de Mayo did not catch on in the United States until sometime in the 1940s in California. With the growth of the Mexican-American population and, thus, the emergence of new customs, the holiday was quickly adopted by the Californian culture at large. Soon after, the holiday would spread from California throughout the country, gaining massive popularity in the 1980s thanks to a much larger Mexican-American population in cities such as Chicago, Houston, and San Jose. Today, the holiday is celebrated in most major cities, with more than 150 official events nationally.
The Blue Iguana Celebrates Cinco de Mayo
At The Blue Iguana, we believe in traditional, homemade Mexican food, a refreshing variety of house Margaritas, and an atmosphere befitting the best of Mexico. Every year we celebrate the Mexican culture with good eats, cold drinks, and a live mariachi band. The spirit of Mexico emanates throughout everything we do, and our Cinco de Mayo celebration is no exception.
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Update – June 10, 2015
This year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration went off without a hitch. Lot’s of good food, great drink specials & happy customers. To see pictures from this year’s observance, check out our newly added Cinco de Mayo photo gallery.