Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5th, mainly here in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico, which is celebrated on September 16. In Mexico, May 5th is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla), and is celebrated mainly in the state of Puebla, but is not a large, national holiday.
Cinco de Mayo initially became popular with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. Today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. It commemorates the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
Member Lisa Garver suggested the album Songs of the Chicano Movement, as a resource for songs to celebrate and educate about the holiday. I will take any excuse to share one of my favorite Mexican songs, Cielito Lindo:
A traditional copla song, musicians are expected to add their own verses. It has been popular among mariachi bands since at least 1882, but it’s origins can be traced back to 17th century Spain. I like to sing the refrain at my pre-schools when kids are upset, it often cheers them up!
For lyrics, click here.