Cinco de Mayo, the fifth day of May in Spanish calendar, is the most colourful festival in Mexico. It marks the anniversary of the battle of Puebla. It is celebrated with pomp and grandeur throughout the Mexican city of Puebla. The commemorate the historic military triumph over Napoleon III and his French forces in 1862.
The battle dates back to an era of extreme unrest and chaos in Mexican history. After gaining independence from Spain through a bloody struggle, the country was reeling under a spell of continuous civil unrest, power struggle and feudal infights. Its economy lay in ruins. Debts from powerful countries like France, Spain and the USA were mounting at an alarming rate, without any prospect of repayment.
France eyed this as an opportunity to extend its colonial supremacy and curb the domineering tendencies of the United States in North America. On the pretext of recovering money, they sought to put a relative of Napoleon III at the helm of power with the support of several wealthy landowners of the region.
Things took a heady turn as a result of this. On 5th May 1862, an ill-equipped Mexican force comprehensively defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla on the southeastern outskirts of Mexico City, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. Hordes of French soldiers lost their lives. Though it took two more years for the French to be finally driven out, the battle of Puebla emerged as a shining reminder of the Mexican struggle for independence and sovereignty.
Cinco de Mayo Celebrations
Today, Cinco de Mayo is somewhat of a regional holiday in Spain, its celebrations being centred mostly in and around the city of Puebla. Visitors would surely be impressed by what they come to see! A food and culture lesson by itself clubbed with an all-out Mexican heritage celebration, this festival defines the victory of the underdogs against a formidable French force.
Red, white and green are mandatory colours for all the festive decorations. Mexican folk music is played at every household and street corner, often accompanied by traditional Mexican dancing. Huge processions with tableaus rule the streets, with people dressed up as French and Mexican soldiers. Roadside shacks over-brim with patriotic costumes mingled with the aroma of famous Mexican spices wafting from the food kiosks. Public re-enactments of the battles showcasing the bravery of the patriotic Mexican troupes are also a major crowd-puller.
Don’t just miss to bring your camera as the festivities are quite lively and colourful! For the travellers, Pueblo offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every pocket. The Casareyna hotel and Hotel La Purificadora are great options if you want to taste of a bygone era. In recent times, celebrations have also gained a lot of popularity in parts of the United States having heavy Mexican population.