5 de Mayo, the story of the Underdog who beat the odds
If you live in the US, I am almost 100% certain you’ve heard of the “5 de Mayo” celebration. This is a day, comparable to Saint Patrick’s Day, when everyone who celebrates it gets to be Mexican for a day over Mexican food and drinks like Margaritas and Guacamole.
A little bit of history
5 de Mayo or May 5th often gets confused with the Mexican Independence Day from the Spanish Crown, which is celebrated on September 16 (México got independence from Spain in 1810). After the Mexican-American war (1846–1848), Mexico got into a civil war called the “Reform War”(1858-1861) between Liberals wanting a separation of church and state and the right to freedom of religion, and Conservatives wanting a close relationship between the Catholic Church and the State. As a result, Mexico nearly got bankrupt and issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for 2 years. France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Mexico in response to demand payment; Britain and Spain negotiated a peaceful retreat while France saw an opportunity for its interests
The Battle of 5 de Mayo or Battle of Puebla happened in 1862 during the French invasion of Mexico(1861-1867) and took place near the city of Puebla at the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. During this battle, the Mexican army composed of 4000 troops defeated the most advanced French army composed of 8000 troops. Even though winning this battle wasn’t enough to stop the French from later taking the capital Mexico City, it gave a boost of confidence to keep fighting. During the invasion, the French Empire ruled by Napoleon III, proclaimed Mexico an Empire and imposed Maximilian of the house of Habsburg as the Emperor of Mexico.
But what and where is really celebrated…
In Mexico, 5 de Mayo is a holiday celebrated only in the State of Puebla. There, every year in almost every city in the state, there is a parade organized by schools; with the biggest parade in the city of Puebla where the Army also forms part of the show.
You may wonder, what is really celebrated since the battle was won, but the war was lost and the French took over the country. I think what is really celebrated is the victory of the underdog over the giant. The thought that sometimes when we put our hearts and hard work into something the impossible becomes possible, and the belief that despite the fact our daily battles are not always evenly matched, we can beat the odds.
So let’s all celebrate 5 de Mayo with the attitude of a champion that never gives up! and Salud…