Viva Mexico! Happy Independence Day Mexico! Right? Actually no.
Independence Day celebrations start in Mexico on the 15th of September with the reenactment of the “El Grito.” The entire country prepares and watches as the cry for independence that began by Catholic priest, Miguel Hidalgo, is staged again at 11pm.
Then the celebration officially begins and lasts through the 16th, the Independence Day holiday, and sometimes even the 17th (Well it did for me). This September the fiesta marks the country’s bicentennial, two hundred years. After being in Mexico for prior celebrations, I can’t imagine a bigger party, but I plan to tweet from the inside this year and let you know. (fingers crossed)
So then, what is Cinco de Mayo?
The day actually commemorates the victory of an outnumbered Mexican Army over French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. (Yes, On May 5th). Eventually France defeated Mexico in the conflict and installed a King (an Emperor). The US did not intervene and cited the Monroe doctrine because of its Civil War. The US never recognized the government and it did not last too long, just a few short years.
But Maximilian, a member of the royal Habsberg family, did rule from El Castillo in the heart of Mexico City. Now the castle inside Chapultepec Park serves as the national history museum. Inside you can learn all about Mexico’s struggles for independence, its revolution, its civil war and its conflict against foreign powers including the US. Definitely worth a visit when touring Mexico City. Additionally, the museum provides outstanding views of the city and numerous amazing murals that tell the history of the country through art.
When I look back, I am very thankful for my Mexican friend and tour guide, an actual descendant from the French Army. She offered tremendous insight that day and on all my time in Mexico. You’d be surprised by the French influence on the country. I was.
OK, but then why the large celebration in the US?
It seems the mad men of Madison Avenue certainly know how to market, or maybe Americans just like to celebrate French military defeats? Perhaps, Corona wanted a pre-summer party to start the beach buying beer season? To be honest, I’m not sure. If you know or have an opinion, please share it. No matter what the true reason, the day marks little significance in Mexico outside the town of Puebla.
But who am I to stop a party? Especially one that involves tequila. Feliz Cinco de Mayo y Viva Mexico!
Stay adventurous, Craig