On This Date in History: Now…Cinco de Mayo, if you know Spanish, means simply May 5. It has been a celebration of Mexican-Americans in the Southwestern states for years. More recently, it’s popularity has spread to other parts of the country. Most Americans think that Cinco de Mayo is sorta a Mexican Fourth of July…their Independence Day.
Did you know that it’s not even an official holiday in Mexico? In the state of Puebla, it’s a day to take off but in much of the rest of the country, its voluntary. It is a day commemorating the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla on this date in 1862. That’s fine but it was not a decisive victory. The French shortly thereafter took over Mexico and ruled the nation until 1867 when Maximilian and the French were expelled.
So…what’ the big deal? Well, remember that California had been under Mexican control until they ceded it to the United States as outlined in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty officially ended the Mexican War in 1848 and, under the terms, the US aquired just about all of the Soutwestern quadrant of what is now the United States in exchange for $15 million. At that time, there were 80,000 Mexicans living in California.
Well, 15 years later in 1863, the Mexicans living in California wanted to have a demonstration of solidarity with their fellow citizens in Mexico who were resisting the French. So, they chose the 5th of May, since it was a day of victory over the French. That means the origin of the day really resides in the United States and not in Mexico at all, which is probably why it’s not a Mexican holiday.
Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in parts of the US like St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest. In other words it’s largely an invention of the Americans and is an excuse for people to party down and claim they are celebrating without really knowing what it is they are supposed to be celebrating nor the reason. However, if you challenge them and explain the origins of the day, they will simply say “well…that’s not why I celebrate, I’m celebrating my heritage!” and then they continue on doing whatever it is they are doing. So, go ahead and continue to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I used to win free bar drinks in trivia contests. So, if you tell people at your party that it’s not Mexican Independence Day and tell them about he Battle of Puebla, then you may get a free drink or who knows what else.
Weather Bottom Line: Still pretty much the same story with a slight wrinkle. The front that I said would just knock on the door will probably come through quietly overnight. Rain chances are possible but I would be surprised to see it stay dry. The biggest change that results are instead of our being the mid to upper 80s like Wedneseday, instead Thursday will be around 80 or so. Friday still has a strong cold front but with this weak front coming through Wednesday night, we probably wont’ be able to reload the atmosphere sufficiently to trigger off a big event. Nevertheless, its still a pretty strong front and even though the main energy will be well to our north, some strong storms will still be possible Friday night before a cooler Mother’s Day Weekend.