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Monday, May 4, 2009

The history of cinco de mayo

Cinco de mayo is celebrated on the 5th of May. Contrary to what many people believe, Cinco de mayo is not Mexico's independence day from Spain. Rather, it's a remembrance of a David and Goliath-like fight. In 1862, as the French invasion of Mexico began, Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza's force of 4,000 soldiers defeated twice as many French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla. The French occupation would continue until 1866. But the Mexican soldiers' courage and determination inspired Mexican Americans. Even back then, historians say, California's Mexican Americans celebrated the win. Later, in the 1960s and 1970s, Chicanos involved in the civil rights movement related the Cinco de mayo story to their quest for respect in the United States. They identified with the Mexican Indian and mestizo (people of Mexican Indian and European descent) soldiers' triumph over European conquest attempts. Chicano activists publicized it and made it a popular holiday in the United States. Today, it's become much like St. Patrick's Day. You don't have to be Mexican to celebrate it.

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