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Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that many celebrate, but it's one of which few Americans know the origins. We accept that the holiday is symbolic of freedom and independence, but what many people probably do not know is that Cinco de Mayo is much more widely celebrated in the USA than in Mexico itself.

This is because the holiday originated during the early days our own Civil War, during which North and South fought. Mexican-Americans at the time celebrated their own cause of freedom and independence on Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, as a remembrance of a particular victory by Mexican forces over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Although Cinco de Mayo symbolizes the fight for freedom, Mexico's actual anniversary of independence is September 16th. In contrast, only some parts of Mexico celebrate Cinco de Mayo at all. Americans living in the southwest are the real reason why the holiday lives on in contemporary times.

Outnumbered and outclassed at the Battle of Puebla, a ragtag group of about 4,500 Mexican soldiers managed to wipe out a much larger army of French in 1862. Eventually, the French sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Mexico and took control. This lasted until 1867 when the French were finally repelled for good. One of the most significant and powerful symbols of the Battle of Puebla is that it was essentially the last time that a European power has ever attempted to invade any country in the Americas. That picture of unity and a continent of power, to many, has endured ever since, and that is why Cinco de Mayo remains such a meaningful holiday, both to our own United States of America, and to Mexico. It may be considered a purely Mexican holiday, but truth be told, it is a holiday that we share jointly.

Cinco de Mayo is a great time to find and try some new recipes from south of the border, and invite some people over for a little fun. All of those with friends of other ethnicities may want to take the time to ask about their culture and the kinds of holidays that are celebrated abroad. What better time is there than Cinco de Mayo to sit around with friends and family with some good food and a drink or two?

Whether you're celebrating your own anniversary of independence or significant reminders of the struggles which were fought for that freedom from other nations, it's important to know where you came from, and how people died in order to make your own future possible. We only have so much time with our parents and grandparents and children, and so don't hesitate to take a few moments to ask questions about your own family history to those who came before you, and share what you learn with those who come after you. Never forget your heritage.

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