This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for May 5, 2017: Now

May 5, 2017: holiday: Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, commemorating the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 when 8,000 well-armed French troops were routed by 4,000 ill-equipped Mexican soldiers. It wasn’t a crucial battle in the course of the war, but became a symbol of Mexican pride and a celebration of Mexican culture in the United States. Cinco de Mayo isn’t widely celebrated in Mexico outside the state of Puebla, but it has been adopted by many Americans regardless of their heritage, much like St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest. It’s been celebrated in California since 1863, and grew in prominence in the rest of the country along with the Chicano movement of the 1940s. It wasn’t until beer advertisers decided to promote the holiday heavily in the 1980s that American celebration of Cinco de Mayo became widespread.