Cinco de Mayo is an important holiday for many Americans, mostly in areas where the Mexican-American population is pretty high – like in San Antonio! Let’s not forget, it is also one of the best days of the year for awesome beer and margarita specials! However, it has a much deeper meaning to many others.
In San Antonio, Texas, many of us speak Spanish or know a little bit of Tex-Mex or Spanglish terms. In Spanish, Cinco de Mayo translates to “Fifth of May.” This is why we always celebrate this occasion on May 5th – no matter what day of the week it falls on. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most misunderstood Mexican holidays. You may be asking yourself, “What is so important about this day?” Great question! Let’s dive right into the history.
Behind Cinco de Mayo
Parts of Mexico and the United States celebrate this holiday in honor of a military victory over the French forces of Napoleon III back on May 5th of 1862 – also known as the Battle of Puebla.
It all started because Mexico was struggling to pay back war debts to European countries. In late 1861, France, Spain, and Britain came to Veracruz, Mexico for debt collection. Britain and Spain agreed on negotiations with Mexico, and they withdrew their forces. France, however, did not give up that easily.
In late 1861, Napoleon III ordered a well-armed French fleet to storm Veracruz in an attempt to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. They were able to push out President Juárez and his government. Then, the French felt confident that they would achieve control easily. General Charles Latrille de Lorencez then ordered the 6,000 French troops to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico.
Meanwhile, President Juárez was not giving up. His new headquarters was now stationed up north, and he was able to gather 2,000 loyal men, mostly native Mexicans or part-Mexicans to battle the French at Puebla. Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza was ordered to lead the attack.
When they made it to Puebla, the Mexicans knew they would be greatly outnumbered by 3 to 1 and lacked the weapons required to take on such a strong force. Besides all of this, they encouraged the town with their brave hearts when they arrived to prepare for battle.
On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army, along with their heavy weaponry, and went to war with the city of Puebla. The French entered into battle confident, but they were not expecting the outcome that came. The battle started at daybreak and was over in the early evening. After the French lost about 500 of their men, they decided to retreat. The Mexicans lost less than 100 men that day.
This may not have been a major tactical win in the war against France, but it proved to be extremely significant. Mexico had long been invaded by so many other countries, but this day was so important because Mexico finally won the battle. Thanks to military support and political pressure from the U.S., France finally withdrew in 1867.
Is Cinco de Mayo the same as Mexican Independence Day?
No – Many people confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day, but they are celebrated on different times of the year. Mexican Independence Day falls on September 16th and recognizes the time Mexico won its independence from Spain. Mexican Independence Day was also recognized about 50 years before the Battle of Puebla happened, so there’s a pretty large gap in time. The two holidays mark important moments throughout history but are not directly correlated.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Costa Pacifica in San Antonio, TX
At Costa Pacifica, we pride ourselves on offering traditional Mexican-style seafood that you can’t find anywhere else in San Antonio, TX! Even though our food is delicious, we are also very well known for our margaritas. So we are going to be offering a BIG treat on May 5th… Jumbo House Margaritas for $5.95! Yep – you read that right. We are bringing out the big margarita glasses in honor of Cinco de Mayo and giving you an unbeatable price. Don’t forget to invite all of your friends to the party! Plus, the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, so work will be no excuse!
Costa Pacifica is conveniently located in the Stone Oak area of San Antonio. Put us down on your calendar for Saturday, and we will party with you soon!