May 5, 2017
Wilson H. Irvine, Old Mexico Street, c.1940, oil on canvas, 24 x 28 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of A. Merlin Steed and Alice W. Steed Collection.
Today is known in Mexican-American and Mexican culture as “Cinco de Mayo,” meaning “The Fifth of May.” Cinco de Mayo is a holiday commemorating the decisive Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 against the French army during the French occupation of Mexico. This occupation came as a result of Mexico’s bankruptcy following the two wars in Mexico in the 1840s and 1850s. In 1861, the French army of over 6,000 troops took over Veracruz on their way to Mexico City. However, in 1862, on their path to Mexico City, French forces were met with strong resistance from a smaller Mexican army of just 2,000 near Puebla. The Mexican army prevailed over the larger, more experienced French army, and the Battle of Puebla became an important boost in morale to the Mexican people.
Contrary to popular belief, May 5 is not Mexican Independence Day. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16.