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The facts about Cinco de Mayo

What the holiday really means before you head out for the tequila

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It's Cinco de Mayo, and for millions of Americans that means drinking Corona instead of Bud Light. But the holiday has an interesting history, even if it is misunderstood by millions, misrepresented by marketers, and overshadowed by sombreros and tequila shots.

First off, you should know that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence day. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when Mexican Indian soldiers defeated the invading French forces of Napoleon III, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to Jose Alamillo, associate professor of Chicano-Latino Studies at California State University Channel Islands, who spoke to Tampa Bay FOX, Cinco de Mayo was “transformed by corporate America."

"It has become, really, a holiday that big business has used to enter the Latino consumer market," he said. "And so they're making millions off this holiday without really honoring the tradition and the history behind the actual holiday."

In an interview with UCLA Newsroom, Hayes-Bautista, author of "El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition," said the origins of the holiday prove Cinco de Mayo isn't even a Mexican holiday. It is an American holiday, born in the Civil War era, and now commemorated because Latino groups in California known as the juntas patrióticas mejicanas (Mexican patriotic assemblies) deliberately created a public memory of it, the UCLA Newsroom reported

For those history buffs looking to delve into the holiday's lineage and evolution, try checking out "Cinco de Mayo: What is Everyone Celebrating," by Donald W. Miles.  

Today, Cinco de Mayo is an amalgamation of corporate beer commercials and 19th century history, tradition and debauchery. But not matter how you celebrate the day, one thing is clear: it is a day of celebration. Disfrutar!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Mexico's day of independence is on September 16. It's called Grito de Dolores.

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