Cinco de Mayo
Easy as Uno, Dos, Tres
Steamboat Springs — Although Mexican food and drink has weaved its way into American culture, many customs south of the border also have migrated north throughout the years.
The festivities of Cinco de Mayo (translation: fifth of May) honor the victory of a Mexican and indigenous army that defeated a French army at the Battle of Puebla May 5, 1862.
It is not Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept. 16.
Lupita Hathaway, Spanish instructor at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus, said many people confuse the celebrations.
“I think Independence Day should be more celebrated than Cinco de Mayo,” said Hathaway, a native of Puebla.
Because Mexico was in financial debt with Spain, England and France, France decided to place Archduke Maximilian of Austria as ruler of Mexico in order to expand French rule.
The payment of debt subsided to these countries, and although the United States was sympathetic with Mexico, it was going through a civil war.
When the French invaded the Mexicans, General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin defeated the larger French army.
Although the victory was short lived, so was Maximilian’s rule.
When France sent in more troops to expand its territory in the late 1860s, the French army fell to pressure from the United States.
Currently, Mexico has 31 states and a federal district, similar to the make up of the United States. Puebla is the name of the capital city and the state of Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo continues its celebration in the United States and Mexico, however, the state of Puebla has the largest celebrations.
“In the city there is a big, huge parade and the president of Mexico comes to watch,” Hathaway said. “It’s a military type of parade … very organized. They have beautiful, colorful uniforms.”
Hathaway mentioned typical Mexican dances, such as the Jarabe Tapat which allow the women to dress in bright sequined skirts called China Poblano. Butterflies, horses and the symbol of the Mexican eagle are sewn onto the skirts, Hathaway said.
Many Americans some of Hispanic descent and some who aren’t have picked up the tradition.
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