Grammar

Cinco De Mayo Probably Doesn’t Mean What You Think

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For years, at least before a global pandemic, a growing number of people celebrate Cinco de Mayo. But some don’t know the reason behind their celebration!

Do you remember celebrating Cinco de Mayo?

Honestly, I never did. But year after year, I would always hear more than a few people having an extra tequila or an extra Margarita while talking about “Mexican Independence Day.”

Mexican Independence Day and Cindo de Mayo are two very different occasions.

First things first: in Spanish, cinco means five and Mayo means May. The de, in this case, means of. Technically, Cinco de Mayo means “five of May.” But Spanish-speaking people understand it to mean the “fifth of May.”

There are plenty of people I know who aren’t remotely interested in Mexico. But when good old 5/5 rolls around, they are only too happy to party like they’re from Mexico City. I’ve even known people to have Mexican-themed parties. The parties, I might add, aren’t about Mexico; they’re about the alcohol.

More power to them.

As the kids say, that’s just not how I roll.

But back to the main story: Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. For the record, the latter event, known there as Día de la Independencia, falls on Sept. 18. Every Sept. 18, Mexicans celebrate the “cry of independence” that started a revolt against the Spaniards.

So the obvious question we’re left with is this: What does May 5 commemorate?

The fifth of May in Mexico actually commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The date was May 5, 1862.

Does Mexico go as crazy over it as America seems to? The answer would be no:

While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

Well, that’s worth celebrating, of course. And spending quality time with friends is always a good thing.

Just be sure you don’t refer to Cinco de Mayo as “Mexican Independence Day.” Because now you know they’re two very different events.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.