Ahhhh Cinco de Mayo. Yet another holiday in the United States that we've taken as an excuse to drink copious amounts of alcohol, eat somewhat traditional foods, and wear slightly racist hats only kind of related to the headware of the people we are supposedly celebrating. It is truly the Mexican St. Patrick's Day. Of course, just like St. Patrick's Day, we here in America make a much bigger deal out of it then the vast majority of people back in the home country, for reasons that are in no way related to the actual meaning of the holiday. Nothing says America quite like cultural appropriation and booze. So, the question is, what is Cinco de Mayo really all about? Yes, yes, we all know it means May 5th, but that doesn't answer the question. No, it's not Mexican Independence Day, that's on September 16. Why don't you just sit down and drink some tequila you sombrero wearing imbecile, and let the big boys school you on some history.
It all goes way back to the year 1862. The United States was embroiled in the Civil War, pitting slave owners against people who weren't so positive about the practice. Down south of the border, Mexico had just finished up its own four year civil war, pitting rich church going conservatives against poor liberals who dreamed of a Mexico where money and god didn't make all of the decisions. Side note, for those of you who are comparing what was happening there to anything going on right now, I suggest you read more about it first. It was called the Reform War. I'll wait. Okay, you back. Great. Anyways, Mexico had just finished up fighting a civil war, one of countless in its history, in which the Liberals won but found themselves in charge of a broke country. See, both sides had borrowed a lot of money from Europe to finance their killing of each other, and now that the war was over, Europe was wanting to pay the money back. Money that Mexico did not have.
So what in the world did Europe do? Well, basically the same thing the mob does when they're owned money, threaten to fuck some shit up. Naval warships from Britain, Spain, and France sailed across the Atlantic and threatened to start blasting unless Mexico paid up. Mexico, apparently having very charming leaders at the time, convinced Britain and Spain to leave, but were less than successful with France. Instead of leaving, France landed an army which began royally fucking up the country and marching towards the capital of Mexico City. This was problematic for Mexico given that their army was smaller than the French invasion force, ill equipped, and led by a 33 year old general. The two armies met at the city of Puebla, just outside of Mexico City, on May 5. It was expected to be an easy victory, but much to everyone's surprise, the Mexican army won. The French retreated back to the coast, and Mexico was saved. Ever since that day, the people of Mexico have commemorated Cinco de Mayo as a great day in their history.
Of course, that is only half the story. Just one year later, the French army marched towards Mexico City again, again meeting the Mexican army at Puebla. This time the Mexican army had their asses handed to them, and the French occupied the country for the next three years, during which time for some reason they made it a monarchy, declaring a crazy Austrian duke named Maximilian its emperor. Maximilian, who changed his named to Maximiliano to better fit in, was a strangely okay dude who seemed to genuinely care about the Mexican people, even though he was basically just some random Austrian dude who had been declared dictator by a foreign government. Regardless of whether or not he was an okay guy, Mexico fought yet another civil war, which finally ended in 1867, thanks to American political help, with France leaving the country and Maximilian being executed. If it makes you feel any better, most of Mexican history is exactly this fucked up.