The Real Cinco de Mayo

Happy Mexican Independence Day!

Flag_of_MexicoNo, it’s not Cinco de Mayo. It’s September 16, and the anniversary of the day when Hidalgo gave his famous speech that kicked off the Mexican Revolution.

It was 1810 in the town of Dolores, Mexico. There was already plenty of anti-Spanish sentiment, and plenty of people being held in prison because of it. Hidalgo took a mob to the prison and broke these would-be revolutionaries out. Afterward he gave his speech which is now called the Grito de Dolores (the Cry of Dolores) to the townspeople and sparked a ten year war which culminated in Mexico’s freedom from Spain.

To commemorate this act each year, the Mexican president rings a large bell and gives a speech from the National Palace in Mexico City to a crowd of half a million people. He ends the speech with “Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!” with the crowd shouting it back to him.

Then What’s Cinco de Mayo?

So what’s the deal with Cinco de Mayo? Contrary to popular belief, it was not the day that a huge cargo ship full of mayonnaise sank. It’s actually the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. Napoleon III had invaded Mexico to collect of some unpaid war debts, and May 5, 1862, was when Mexico finally defeated them. Eventually the French came back and took over the whole country, but that’s beside the point. A win is a win when you’re celebrating, and after a couple of years, Mexico took back their country once and for all.

Viva Mexico!