Cinco de Mayo , or “The Fifth of May,” commemorates Mexico’s symbolic victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War.
After enduring the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848, and the Mexican Civil War, 1858, Mexico was struggling and forced to default on debts to fellow countries. Simultaneously, France was looking to expand its own territories and saw Mexico’s temporary weakness as an opportunity.
France invaded, and on 5 May 1862 its army nearly tripled that of the soldiers following Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza. However after a day of battle, France retreated, allowing Mexico to relish in its extraordinary triumph.
“[Cinco de Mayo] is about national pride,” said Liliana Gonzalez, manager of La Casita Restaurant and Cantina. “It’s a battle we won against the French Army … even though they were a bigger and better army.”
This day honors the bravery of Gen. Zaragoza and his troops, as well as the sense of unity experienced throughout Mexico; and this salute of national pride and honor is still celebrated by the country.
Students ranging from kindergarten to middle school will re-enact the battle, portraying both the Mexican and French revolutionary characters, Gonzalez said.
Gonzales said she remembers walking in a parade with her high school to “honor the battle which later led to [Mexico’s] independence.”
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a day to honor and embrace Mexico’s culture and customs.
“In America it’s celebrated a little differently,” Gonzalez said. “Here it’s a drinking day, and in Mexico it’s a national holiday.”
In recognition of this holiday, La Casita will have drink and food specials all day.
“It runs along with [the restaurant’s] anniversary so we’ll also be giving away things like gift cards and t-shirts,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added that La Casita offers a pleasant, family-oriented ambiance creating the perfect place to celebrate one of Mexico’s national holidays.