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History of Cinco de Mayo

History of Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2023

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It’s not really a popular holiday in Mexico, but in the United States it has become an important way to commemorate Mexican culture and heritage especially in Mexican-American populations.

Cinco de Mayo is sometimes confused with El Día de la Independencia, or Independence Day, which is celebrated in September. El Día de la Independencia is celebrated on September 15 and 16 in Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It’s also frequently celebrated by Mexican-Americans and coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15).

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is only celebrated in the city of Puebla where the battle was fought and won. Puebla happens to be the city that I spent a year living in, working as a children’s librarian, and where I learned Spanish. While I was living there, I was able to visit some of the historical sites associated with Mexico’s victory and go to their Cinco de Mayo parade.

One of the historical sites that I visited while living there was the Guadalupe Fort, which is the actual location of the battle. Today, you can visit the fort and museum. Their website is available in both English and Spanish. For folks who do wish to visit, there’s a beautiful overlook of the city of Puebla.

There are many ways that you can learn about Mexican-American heritage and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with help from the Library. Here are just a few of the options:

  • Mango LanguagesUse this awesome resource to learn Spanish. It breaks down the language into accessible units and encourages you to practice every day. Try it out!
  • TumbleBook Library – Did you know that TumbleBooks has books available in English, French, and Spanish? Reading books is a great way to acquire another language.
  • Hispanic Life in AmericaThis resource connects you with over 17,000 news sources in English and Spanish. Some topics of interest include articles on Vaqueros (Mexican cowboys), the Cuban Missile Crisis, and even the influential Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
  • CultureGramsYou can use this resource to explore the culture, cuisine, or traditional clothing associated with Mexico. Do you like cooking? Try their recipes for Horchata or Flan.

Are you a fan of modern cinema or someone who loves beautiful cinematography? Did you know that Guillermo del Toro was born in Guadalajara, Mexico? He’s most famous for his movie Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Disney cartoon Coco was also created by a Mexican-American director and features many themes that will feel familiar to anyone who loves Mexico.  

History buffs can read about the Battle of Puebla in The Encyclopedia of Battles in North America, 1517 to 1916.

You can also explore the Library’s catalog for titles related to Hispanic themes and culture. Check out the following lists that staff have created for past Hispanic Heritage Months:

Meghan B.
Electronic Resources Librarian

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