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Cinco de Mayo madness shall soon set upon us with tequila-soaked parties and traditional Mexican dancing to boot. Most people think of this occasion as an excuse to mix up a margarita on a weekday, but the holiday’s history shouldn’t be ignored.
1. Point-blank translation: Cinco de Mayo translates from Spanish to “the fifth of May.”
2. The holiday commemorates a Mexican battle: Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. During the fight, a “rag-tag” gathering of 2,000 Mexican soldiers fended off 5,000 French soldiers. When all was said and done, only 100 Mexican soldiers died compared to 500 French.
3. The victory was symbolic: While the Battle of Puebla wasn’t a huge strategic victory, it raised morale for the Mexican forces. Six years later, Napoleon withdrew his forces from the country and gave up on adding Mexican territory to his empire.
4. Mexican Independence Day is a different holiday: The first Mexican Independence Day took place in 1810. It. is celebrated annually on September 16.
5. Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States: According to the 2013 U.S. Census, about 54 million Hispanics make their home in the United States. This translates to roughly 17% of the total U.S. population. By 2060, the U.S. Hispanic population is expected to reach 128.8 million, which will make up roughly 31% of the U.S. population.
6. Cinco de Mayo is more of a U.S. than a Mexican holiday: In Mexico, the holiday consists mostly of speeches and reenactments of the Battle of Puebla, and federal offices do not close on this day. Whereas in the U.S., the holiday encompasses much revelry. The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration, the Festival de Fiesta Broadway, takes place in Los Angeles.
7. Americans may have created the holiday: According to Huffington Post, Latinos in the U.S. created the holiday (before the Civil War) as a statement against slavery: “It was all created in this country, by Latinos who supported freedom and racial equality and who were opposed to slavery, supremacy and the exclusion by government.”
8. Tequila sales boom for this holiday: No surprise here, right? In the United States alone, revelers will swig 12.3 million cases of tequila. This amount is double the amount of tequila consumed in Mexico during this holiday. 43% of the tequila will be consumed within a delicious margarita. Here’s a few more tequila facts.
9. The margarita wasn’t invented until 1938: While it’s hard to imagine life without this frozen alcoholic beverage, it hasn’t always existed. According to Smithsonian magazine, the true authorship of the margarita is the subject of much debate. Most scholars agree that Carlos “Danny” Herrera invented the drink in Tijuana in 1938.
10. Tortillas are also big business: In the United States alone, around 367 U.S. tortilla manufacturing factories exist. Tortillas are also known as the “bread of Mexico” but have spread to other uses beyond Mexican food. That wrap you ate for lunch? Thank the Aztecs.