Cinco de Mayo Ain’t What You Think It Is!

The weather is great.  Don’t worry about it for a couple of days.  Rain chances on Wednesday look minimal at best. Thursday is the best chance for rain and there is a possibility that it may have some good storms with it.  I suspect that on Wednesday, Arkansas will be under the gun again.  Hopefully they won’t have towns blown off the map like last week.  The system lifts up our way and will be in a very good position for us to get rough weather.  What is unclear is whether or not all of the ingredients stay together as it moves our way.  There is nothing that jumps out at me at this time to suggest that but it is something that bears watching and we will let you know of what shakes out.

On This Date in History: Alan Shepherd became the first American in space on this date in 1961. The flight lasted about 15 minutes.  Basically it was like shooting a big cannon shot.  It went up in Florida and come down in the Atlantic Ocean…up and down.  Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.  A few weeks before Shepherd’s flight on April 12, 1961 the Soviet Gagarin not only became the first man in space, he also was the first to orbit the earth.   John Glenn didn’t become the first American to orbit the earth until February 20, 1962.  He was the third American in space.

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.

Wrong. Mexican Independence Day is in September.

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 May 5, 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.  The US took 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, 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, the chose the 5th of May, since it was a day of victory over the French. 

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 or 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, you too continue to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  But 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.


2 Responses

  1. Hey! You wanna know what else goes great with Cinco de Mayo besides chips and salsa?? Latin Music!The best I can suggest goes by the name of Trio Caliente.

    Their music is festive and full of energy. If you’re having any celebrations today bump their single “Baila Me”
    HAPPY Cinco de Mayo!!!!!!

  2. I’m from Tejas…and you can’t go wrong with Pace Picante Sauce either. Maybe you can help me out…there is one song that we always got the mariachi band to play, particularly in Acapulco. We just shouted “la bacina” and they played it. But, I think my spelling is all wrong. Any clues? I just think that it’s funny that Cinco de Mayo is becoming an American day and that in Mexico it’s largely ignored but most Americans don’t know it. I wonder if eventually the influence will work in reverse and that some day it will become bigger in Mexico because it’s growing in the US.

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