By Mariana Vázquez-García
Immigration Attorney, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein
I was greeted a little while ago with a “Happy Cinco de Mayo!”
My reaction was: Thanks, but although I am Mexican, I don’t celebrate it.
Actually, neither does most of Mexico. “Cinco de Mayo” is not Mexico’s Independence Day. That day is September 16.
Also, “Cinco de Mayo” is really only celebrated in the state of Puebla, which borders Mexico City. It commemorates the Battle of Puebla from the 1860s, in which a small group of French soldiers, then considered the best in the world, was defeated by the Mexicans defending their town. It was a short-lived win, but the memory remains.
Each year, at least one of the towns in Puebla holds a parade and celebration and sometimes even a reenactment of the Battle of Puebla.
My grandfather once told the true story of one such celebration. As the days approached the anniversary of the Battle, an announcement was posted asking for volunteers to participate in the annual reenactment.
However, that year there was also a warning that went something like this:
“Citizens, those who wish to participate in the annual reenactment of the Battle of Puebla must sign-up in City Hall in order to obtain their assignment and uniform. Please be warned that THIS YEAR each participant must strictly refrain from drinking any alcoholic beverage until after the end of the reenactment. Because last year the French won!”
I think that is where Corona beers took off with the idea of sponsoring “Cinco de Mayo” here in the U.S.
So, if you celebrate “Cinco de Mayo,” while I don’t pay much attention to the day myself, I say, ¡Salud!”