ALABAMA (WHNT) — While Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, it should also be known the holiday isn’t just about finding the best street tacos and frozen margaritas (but also, we won’t judge).
There are plenty of events to attend across North Alabama, whether you’d rather celebrate with music, food, painting or even bingo!
May 5 was officially declared a national holiday by President Benito Juarez in 1863, celebrating the one-year anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, according to the Smithsonian.
That battle happened after Juarez stopped making payments to European nations after war had made it impossible for the country to keep paying.
Three wars, specifically, depleted Mexico’s funds, including the 1821 battle to gain independence with Spain, the two-year fight against America in the 1840s, and their own civil war in 1857.
After the country defaulted on payments, France, Britain and Spain sent troops their way to demand repayment.
Yet, in true Napoleon fashion, the third namesake did his own thing and sent 6,000 troops to the town of Puebla in hopes to install a French monarch. Those troops battled 2,000 Mexicans, who, on May 5, were victorious.
Despite Napoleon III returning with more forces and installing Arch Duke Maximillian, “Cinco de Mayo” became the battle cry for Mexican troops, celebrating every year with singing, dancing and food.
Those celebrations were a way for them to stay focused on taking their country back and keeping their heritage alive.
It wasn’t a major celebration in America, until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted the Good Neighbor Policy in 1933, which aimed to strengthen the relationships with Latin American countries.
Cinco de Mayo got a big popularity boost in the 1960s when beer companies produced marketing campaigns targeting the Hispanic population.
Since we all have margaritas on our minds now, this would be a good time to point out that the very first frozen margarita machine — which was created in 1970 — is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History after spending 34 years making countless customers happy.
Cinco de Mayo wasn’t celebrated with margaritas, though, until their invention in the late 1930s-early-1940s.
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to celebrate the holiday with your favorite taco and marg. There are other ways to celebrate, like engaging in the culture and heritage, reading books by Latin authors, listening to music, watching movies or admiring art created by Mexican artists.
You can also find and support local Mexican-owned businesses in your area, or find some good recipes and make your own authentic food at home!
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated every year on September 16.