Here’s the Real Meaning of Cinco de Mayo
OK, today is the 5th of May, or Cinco de Mayo Day. According to some people it’s a day that commemorates the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). Some people are questioning that. I have my own version of why we celebrate the day.
It is not Independence Day in Mexico as many think. That day is September 16. Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico. But in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.
Many people in the Hannibal-Quincy area really don’t know the background for this day but they will celebrate it anyway. Actually, there are conflicting stories as to the origin of this holiday. As a matter of fact, I was asked about Cinco de Mayo the other day and I mentioned the conflict of stories. So if anyone should ask you what it is all about, here is what I suggest you tell them.
Back in 1862, supplies of goods were hard to come by. Spices were in demand from the new world. Items like mustard, mayonnaise, and relishes were in big demand. Getting those items to countries across the seas was not always easy. Ships delivering these items ran into all kinds of problems including rough seas and sickness of the crews. Many times those ships never arrived. Such was the case with the S.S.Helmanns which left England for Mexico with spices and supplies.
The ship was loaded and perhaps overloaded with mayonnaise. It sailed for two days before it ran aground and sank of off the coast of Mexico on May 5th, 1862. And ever since that incident, it has been known as “Sinko de Mayo”.
You believe what you want, but I like my story better. I bet my history teacher just rolled over in her grave!