May 5th is celebrated in the United States as Cinco de Mayo. But many of those enjoying delicious guacamole and downing margaritas do not know quite what Cinco de Mayo is.
1. Cinco de Mayo honors the Mexican army's triumph over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in May 1862. It was a very unexpected victory by untrained, ill-equipped Mexican soldiers, over a disciplined, well-armed French army. France invaded Mexico in an attempt to secure repayment of money Mexico had borrowed.
2. Mexico did not defeat the French Army and force them to leave the country until 1867.
3. Mexican Independence Day is September 16, NOT May 5. Also, it occurred in 1810, more than 50 years prior to the Battle of Puebla.
4. In Mexico, the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla) and Puebla hosts a battle reenactment each year. The holiday is celebrated in the state of Puebla, but not widely commemorated elsewhere in Mexico.
5. The United States has 33.7 million residents who are of Mexican origin, according to the United States Census Bureau.
6. Chicano activists in the U.S in the 1960s and 1970s popularized the holiday, identifying with the Mexican Indian and mestizo (people of Mexican Indian and European descent) soldiers' triumph over European conquest attempts, reports Parents Magazine.
7. The largest Cinco de Mayo celebration is in Los Angeles, CA.
8. Guacamole is a really big deal today, with the California Avocado Commission estimating that Americans use around 87 million pounds of the green fruit in their Cinco de Mayo meals.
9. Americans spend about $2.9 billion annually on margaritas, which account for about 14 percent of the country’s cocktail sales. Bloomberg reports that skyrocketing lime costs now make the lime juice in the drink more costly than the tequila. Cinco de Mayo is the biggest day for margarita sales, Bloomberg reports.
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