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The real meaning behind Cinco de Mayo – it’s not what you think. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t raise a glass.

Cinco_de_Mayo_dancers_in_Washington_DCNo, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16.  According to poemofquotes.com, “The 5th of May is the celebation of the defeat of Napoleon III in Mexico, but is largely only celebrated in the United States. The French army attempted to invade Mexico with over 14,000 troops. The Mexican army with only 4,000 men defeated Napoleon III and kept their land and freedom by winning The Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. The day is celebrated in the United States for many reasons, including keeping the French from supplying the Confederate Army with more goods and ammunition.”

So how did this celebration of victory over Napoleon become an excuse for drinking alcohol, sometimes to excess? The answer may be found on pepe.comThe day when Mexicans won a war for Pueblo is (analogous) to St. Patrick’s Day. During that day Mexicans are dancing to their traditional music – Mariachi, and they are drinking alcohol. In some regions celebrations last even all day. 

Or as someecards.com suggests, “I’m not above using obscure Mexican battles to justify my drinking.”

Taking a higher road, Representative Joe Baca reminds us that “Cinco de Mayo has come to represent a celebration of the contributions that Mexican Americans and all Hispanics have made to America.” That sounds good to me.

I just returned from Iceland, where there is a Mexican restaurant called Tabasco’s in Rejyavik that claims to offer Icelandic specialities with a Mexican touch. If you’re in the mood to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by eating some minke whale, I think this is the place for you. Can’t vouch for it personally, as we never visited the restaurant, or ate minke whale for that matter. Wonder what they put in their margaritas…

It’s spring, the sun is shining, and why turn down an excuse for a celebration? Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.