Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Viva El Cinco De Mayo!!

Mexicans will take about any excuse to turn it into a fiesta or a holiday. Take Cinco de Mayo, for instance. Just 40 years ago no one I know ever even heard of it. Before this, the event was sporadically celebrated in Mexico, but the Chicanos of the late 1960's needed something to boost their pride and heritage so they kidnapped the occasion to create a holiday which would allow them to cry "Viva Mexico!" and wave Mexican flags without being considered traitors, or un-American.
The event celebrates an obscure battle fought in Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862, when a small army of French soldiers, landed on Mexico's gulf coast, demanding payment for overdue loans by the Mexican government.
They were simply one of a long list of foreign creditors expecting payments from a corrupt, bancrupt and inept Mexican regime. However, they met a hardy and feisty Mexican contingent in Puebla, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, who bravely defeated the superior French soldiers.

Ironically, a year later the French would defeat the Mexican army in Mexico City, and Maximilian I, who was duped into believing the Mexicans would welcome a noble European as king, was declared "The Emperor of Mexico!! When the French learned that governing Mexicans was no easy task, they withdrew in 1866-67, and Maximilian was captured by Benito Juarez, Mexico's first Indian President, and promptly executed. His wife Carlota, went insane and was shipped back to France.

Long story short, this is why we sip Margaritas and Corona beer and dip our tortilla chips into guacamole, and clack our Folklorico dance heels on streets and stages, and Save Mart has "Cinco de Mayo" sales on beer, chips and avacados. Seriously, the victory of Zaragoza's troops shows that Mexicans, are fighters, and will not roll over easily for any foreigner.

But the French did leave one legacy behind for Mexicans: Bolillos (French Rolls) which Mexicans love to make their "tortas" (sandwiches) in and fill them with beans and hot chile.

1 comment:

#167 Dad said...

Great stuff, Rick. Interesting how Mexico gave Maximillan a French style execution.I'm a big fan of Mexican history. Villa and Zapata are my favirite historical figures...
I Always enjoy your postings.