Why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo

“It was an underdog victory”
The real reason for celebrating Cinco de Mayo
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As the Latino population has increased in the United States, so has the popularity of Cinco de Mayo.

Tequilas and tacos may be some of the first things that come to mind when planning to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but there’s much more to the holiday than that.

“Cinco de Mayo is about a battle that the Mexican army had with the French,” said Joe Garcia, CEO of the Cristo Rey Community Center.

Garcia said to him, Cinco de Mayo represents an underdog victory where “an undersized army had a victorious effort with a much larger French army.”

Now, when he thinks of Cinco de Mayo, he said these three words come to mind: also fun, festive, and food!

Pablo Moldonado is the owner of Pablo’s Old Town Restaurant in Lansing -- and he’s from Puebla, Mexico where the battle was fought years ago on May 5. He said Cinco de Mayo is not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day -- which is on Sept. 16 and represents freedom as a country, not victory over a piece of land.

“I believe for me the most important part of Cinco de Mayo fiesta is Mexican freedom,” Moldonado said. “We celebrate in Mexico Cinco de mayo, the liberty from [the] French population.”

Moldonado said you can’t forget the tacos, guacamole, and margaritas, though. He says if you really want to celebrate, grab a gordita “because the original recipe is from Puebla,” and they’re made from scratch at his Mexican restaurant.

According to Nielsen Research Company, Americans will spend more than $600,000,000 on food and beer for Cinco de Mayo. That rivals spending on other holidays like July 4th and the Super Bowl.

Related: Restaurants across Mid-Michigan prepare for Cinco de Mayo festivities

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