Greetings from Latinflare, Cloudflare’s LatinX Employee Resource Group, with members all over the US, the UK, and Portugal. Today is Cinco de Mayo! Americans everywhere will be drinking margaritas and eating chips and salsa. But what is this Mexican holiday really about and what exactly are we celebrating?
About Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for "Fifth of May", is an annual celebration held in Mexico on May 5th. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. Zaragoza died months after the battle due to illness. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated the Mexican army at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. More popularly celebrated in the United States than Mexico, the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. These celebrations began in California, where they have been observed annually since 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity in the 1980s thanks especially to advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies. Today, Cinco de Mayo generates beer sales on par with the Super Bowl. WOW!
In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades or battle reenactments. Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistaken for Mexico's Independence Day—the most important national holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16th.
What Cinco de Mayo means to me? Stories and perspectives from Latinflare members.
Before COVID-19, Latinflare members across the US were planning to host “dip contests” and “make-your-own-margarita happy hours” to recognize Cinco de Mayo. In our new “work from home” world, we decided to still celebrate the holiday, but in a new way. I asked members of Latinflare to share what the holiday means to them and their families. Here’s what they shared. Please feel free to share your own personal stories in the comments section if you'd like!
What Cinco de Mayo means to me by Alonso - Cloudflare London
Having grown up in Mexico, my experience of Cinco de Mayo was quite different from many of my US-based friends and colleagues.
Originally, Cinco de Mayo commemorated the Battle of Puebla, which took place on 5 May 1862. In that battle, the Mexican Army defeated the French Army, which later overran Mexican forces and conquered Mexico City. My experience of Cinco de Mayo was mostly as a bank holiday where you get to stay home from school or work. Other holidays like Día de la Independencia (Mexico's equivalent to 4th of July) get more headlines, fireworks, and celebrations. For the longest time, I didn't quite get when US-based friends would text me to wish me a "Happy Cinco."
One of the fascinating things about Latinflare, and other Employee Resource Groups at Cloudflare, is that you get to learn from colleagues and their collective experiences. Hearing stories -like the ones shared in this blog- about the significance of Cinco de Mayo to employees across the U.S. is fascinating. The Hispanic community in the US has augmented this day, which now celebrates the rich heritage of immigrant families from across Latin America. So from all our friends at Latinflare, I wish you a very happy Cinco!
A perspective from Salvador - Cloudflare Austin
About 7 years ago when I was still living in Guadalajara, Mexico, Cinco de Mayo was a regular workday (full of meetings) and I remember American co-workers asking me how I was going to celebrate! I was like: “Why do you ask?”, “That’s not a Mexican holiday!", “We just had a holiday (May Day)”. I had to Google it so that I could explain to Americans what this holiday was about: Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over France on that day back in 1862. It is also known as "Battle of Puebla”, referring to the state in central Mexico where the battle took place. That’s the only Mexican region where Cinco de Mayo is a major holiday.
I am still surprised how this minor holiday is more celebrated in the US than in Mexico, but celebrations are never a bad thing so, keep celebrating this date!! Viva Mexico!! Now that I live in the US, this is a great date to hang out with friends and share Mexican food (tacos, guacamole, nachos, etc.) so they can taste authentic Mexican food.
Weighing in from Texas is Ricardo - Cloudflare Austin
Unfortunately, in my experience, there are some misconceptions about this day: mainly that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence day (which it is not). Growing up in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo meant that I didn't have to go to school and got to stay home. In the US, however, it is a day to celebrate Hispanic heritage!
Mostly a holiday in Puebla says Alex - Cloudflare Austin
I don't really believe that Mexican families outside of Puebla are very aware of Cinco de Mayo. Even though I didn’t grow up in Puebla, I learned a bit more about the holiday due to the fact that my middle school in Ojocaliente, Zacatecas was named "Gral. Ignacio Zaragoza" after the general that defeated the French army in that battle in Puebla in 1862. This only made me try to be extra friendly to any French person that I've met. So even though we are not celebrating Mexican Independence Day, I don’t have the heart to ruin the party for everyone.
Resources for Celebrating Cinco de Mayo during Quarantine
Whatever your thoughts or experiences on the holiday, if you choose to celebrate it, we found some cool resources for celebrating the holiday at home. Here are just a few:
- Forbes “How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Quarantine”
- Travel & Leisure “How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Home”
- Do Awesome Stuff in Austin “How to do Cinco de Mayo at Home in Austin”
Wherever you are, we are wishing you a happy and healthy Cinco de Mayo!
To learn more about Latinflare and how we got started, read our first blog post “Bienvenidos a Latinflare”.
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