Friday marks the 161st anniversary of Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla when Mexican troops defeated France in 1862.

Although a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States it has become an annual celebration that for many is an excuse to enjoy the traditions and gastronomic delights of the Aztec country.

Many people tend to confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day, known as El Grito de Independencia, which is actually celebrated on September 16 when Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain.

Indeed, in Mexico, May 5 is not a holiday but a day of commemoration of the victory of this nation over the French during the battle of Puebla in 1862.

What’s the story?

The Mexican army, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, a 33-year-old Texan from Goliad, defeated French forces in Puebla, a city about 70 miles southeast of the capital, with half the troops and less than means of warfare. The withdrawal of French troops represented a great victory for the Mexican people, symbolizing the country’s ability to defend its sovereignty against a powerful foreign nation.

Four days later, Juárez declared that day a national holiday. But France eventually conquered the country and dominated it for three years between 1864 and 1867. The United States was in the midst of a civil war, and the Mexican victory that day prevented the French from continuing north and helping the Confederates, so this battle might have changed the course of American history.

When did the date begin to be celebrated in the United States?

The first American Cinco de Mayo celebrations date back to the 1860s, when Mexicans in California commemorated the victory over France in Puebla. At that time, the United States was embroiled in a civil war. News of the helpless Mexican army defeating the forces of Napoleon III gave new strength to the Latinos of California, who sought to halt the advances of the Confederate army.

“For Mexicans in the United States, the Civil War and the French invasion of Mexico were like a war on two fronts. They feared that France, which sided with the Confederacy, was on the doorstep of the United States. United,” he said. David Hayes-Bautista, professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles, told NBC News.

About a century later, Chicano activists rediscovered the holiday and accepted it as a symbol of ethnic pride. However, the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that take place in the United States today only became popular when American beer companies began targeting their advertising at the Hispanic population in the 1970s and 1980s, said José Alamillo. , a professor of Chicano studies in California, told

Currently, Cinco de Mayo in the United States is primarily a celebration of Mexican-American culture.

How can I celebrate May 5 in the New York area?

  • Parade of the feast of May 5: This will take place on Sunday, May 7 from 12:00 p.m. at Central Park West from 106th street on the Upper West Side. People who attend the parade will meet various groups with comparsas, music and more.
  • Mexican restaurant on a boat (On the boat): La Barca Cantina is New York’s first and only floating Mexican restaurant and travels up the Hudson River. The ship reopens on Thursday May 4 for the summer season. More information here.
  • Cinco de Mayo evening cruise: A food and drink package would take you to celebrate May 5 on a cruise through New York. More here.
  • Visit some of the Big Apple’s most popular Mexican restaurants:
    • The mansion (in the Bronx): This is an Oaxacan family restaurant in the South Bronx. The goal is to preserve and share indigenous Mexican cuisine. More here.
    • The Cactus Shop (Brooklyn): Located in the heart of Brooklyn, The Cactus Shop is a vibrant hidden gem that merges the worlds of bar, bistro and boutique into an alluring atmosphere reminiscent of an authentic Mexican canteen. More here.
    • #1 Tacos (Various locations): Street tacos. More information here.

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