Why is Cinco de Mayo celebrated and where is it celebrated most? Yes, it’s a great time for a Margarita or swig of Corona, but let’s know the reason we raise our cup on Cinco de Mayo. (Bonus: Shelley’s Margarita recipe below!)
Facts: Cinco de Mayo, first celebrated on May 5, 1862, was the response by Mexican-Americans — mostly Californians — to the French invasion of Mexico, The Battle of Puebla, and fear that the North would lose the Civil War, enslaving those with Mexican heritage along with Blacks throughout the southwest. French Emperor Napoleon III was an ally of the Confederacy and likely to become the first to endorse Southern secession and nationhood.
Backstory: On the cusp of the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy, California became part of United States in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Before that, the Mexican Constitution, as part of its separation from Spain in 1821, guaranteed freedom from slavery and codified that all citizens were equal and free. Becoming part of the United States put that all in question and there was considerable concern among Hispanos that California might become a slave state as the Confederacy asserted its superiority and elitism in Congress, and won early Civil War battles. Other Southwest states that were originally part of New Spain and then Mexico, joined the movement.
Since most of Californian’s were of Mexican descent at that time, there was huge concern. Californios and those throughout the Southwest raised large amounts of financial support to preserve the Union and defeat the Confederacy, in addition to volunteering and sending funds to Mexico to defeat the French. They volunteered to fight for the Union and participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run in Virginia. They had a lot at stake.
- Read Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla
- Watch this Video: The Real Cinco de Mayo and then share it!
- Read There’s more to Cinco de Mayo than you might think
- Watch this video:
So, raise one today for the courage of Mexican-Americans who helped defeat France in the Battle of Puebla, and joined the Union to fight the Confederacy.
Racism, elitism, and anti-democratic movements continue to raise it’s destructive head in the United States of America. History is a way to help us understand how we got here and what we need to do to be vigilant. This is also a study in how Latinos have always been part of the social fabric of our nation and allies in fighting for freedom, deserving of honor and respect.
Now, for the A Su Salud!
Shelley Singleton’s Fresh Margarita Recipe
- 3/4 C. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 C. orange juice
- 1 C. tequila (or espadin mezcal joven)
- 1/2 C. Cointreau
- Agave syrup to taste
Shake with ice. Serve neat or on the rocks. For a salted rim, rub with lime juice and dip on plate of Kosher salt.
- 4 parts juice
- 3 parts tequila or mezcal
- 1 part Cointreau
And, Shelley’s Quickie Marg
- 1.5 oz. tequila or mezcal
- 1/2 oz. Cointreau
- 1.5 oz. Trader Joe’s Jalapeño limeade (not spicy)
- 1/2 lime, juiced
Prepare as above.