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May 5, 2019

Surprising Facts about Cinco de Mayo That’ll Get You Intrigued

A popular misconception about Cinco de Mayo is that it’s the independence day of Mexico. Actually, it’s a holiday that celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over the French forces of Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The battlefield victory came off as a huge unexpected victory for the Mexicans since they were heavily outnumbered by the French forces.

That is the historical reason why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Before you go out to enjoy the parade or taste some traditional Mexican delicacies, it would be great to learn more about the holiday. Here are six surprising facts about Cinco de Mayo that will get you intrigued:

  • Mexico only won one battle, not the war.

Despite the victory, Mexico would still fall under the control of the French, with Napoleon installing Maximilian of Habsburg, Archduke of Austria, as Emperor of Mexico. The French occupation of the country went on for five years.

  • Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico.

Surprisingly, this significant day is not considered a national holiday in Mexico. In fact, it’s seen as just a minor holiday except in the states of Puebla and Veracruz.

  • President Roosevelt popularized Cinco de Mayo in the U.S.

Thanks to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, we’re also celebrating this Mexican holiday every year. In 1933, he enacted the Good Neighbor Policy to improve relations with Latin American countries, using the Cinco de Mayo celebration for this purpose.

  • Los Angeles throws the largest Cinco de Mayo party.

The largest celebration of Cinco de Mayo is held not in Mexico but in Los Angeles, California, where it’s called the Festival de Fiesta Broadway. The event draws more than 600,000 people. It is also celebrated in Chicago, Illinois; San Antonio, Texas; Denver, Colorado, and Chandler, Arizona, which is the home of the annual Cinco de Mayo Chihuahua Races.

  • Mexicans have an official dish for the holiday.

In Puebla, no Cinco de Mayo is complete without the mole poblano, which is the official dish for the celebration. The dish is simply a sauce with various spices, chili pepper, and chocolate.

  • It’s celebrated in other countries, too.

Besides Mexico and the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated in other parts of the world, including Canada, Australia, Malta, and the Cayman Islands. People in Vancouver, Canada, interestingly spend the day with a skydiving boogie, which includes an air show and aerial acrobatics. Even more fascinating, the inhabitants of Cayman Islands celebrate the occasion with an air guitar contest.

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