As all of you know, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo! What most people in America don’t know however is that there is actually a reason for the holiday, not just a time to drink tequila and wear sombreros. Cinco de Mayo is actually for the most part only celebrated in America by people who think that they are partying to appreciate Mexico, which for them means drinking tequila. There is also a widespread belief that Cinco de Mayo is like a Mexican Fourth of July, this however is also untrue because Mexican Independence Day is on September 16th. In the country of Mexico it is mostly celebrated by the people of Puebla (where I just so happen to be) and it is a commemoration of the day of the Battle of Puebla. On May 5, 1862 the Mexican Army managed to scrape out an unlikely victory over the French forces during the French invasion of Mexico. Although the battle wasn’t very strategically important, and the French went on to win the war, the battle was a huge morale boost for the struggling Mexican troops. For a people that felt infinitely inferior, this victory created a much needed sense of nationalism and pride.
Yesterday there was a huge parade as well as reenactments in the forts outside of the city. The president of Mexico was in attendance as well as the Governor and many other important government officials. In order to actually be at the parade grounds you had to purchase special tickets and then be crammed together with a gazillion of your closest friends in 90 degree weather all day….so we decided to skip the experience and watch the parade on TV. After the parade a bunch of my friends and I met up and walked to the zocalo however, where we hung out and did some people watching since there were so many out and about for the holiday. There were even more street vendors than usual and tons of families picnicking in the grass of the square or just out for an afternoon stroll. We finished out our afternoon with a nice cold drink at a rooftop bar overlooking the zocalo where we could continue our people watching and also sit and chat. Probably a little more low-key than most American college students on a day dedicated to tequila, but I enjoyed myself.