Spanish Vocabulary: El Cinco de Mayo

Spanish Vocabulary: El Cinco de Mayo

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Spanish Vocabulary: The 5th of May
el vocabulario español: el cinco de mayo 

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Here is a selection of vocabulary words that are used to celebrate the Fifth of May (El Cinco de Mayo)!

la batalla : battle

la celebración : celebration

la cerveza : beer

cinco : five (fifth)

la fiesta : party

la guerra : war

mayo : may

México : Mexico

la tequila : tequila

Spanish Vocabulary: Celebrations - El Cinco de Mayo via Wikimedia Commons

El Cinco de Mayo via Wikimedia Commons

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5. It is celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla). The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is actually celebrated on September 16.

El Cinco de Mayo via Wikimedia Commons

El Cinco de Mayo via Wikimedia Commons

In the United States Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, including César Chávez. To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate pupils about its historical significance. Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklórico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles, near Olvera Street. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, and music.

El Cinco de Mayo via Wikimedia Commons

El Cinco de Mayo via Wikimedia Commons

According to a paper published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture about the origin of the observance of Cinco de Mayo in the United States, the modern American focus on that day first started in California in the1860s in response to the resistance to French rule in Mexico. “Far up in the gold country town of Columbia (now Columbia State Park) Mexican miners were so overjoyed at the news that they spontaneously fired off rifles shots and fireworks, sang patriotic songs and made impromptu speeches.” A 2007 UCLA Newsroom article notes that “The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico.” TIME magazine reports that “Cinco de Mayo started to come into vogue in 1940s America during the rise of the Chicano movement.” United Press International reports that “The holiday crossed over into the United States in the 1950s and 1960s but didn’t gain popularity until the 1980s when marketers, especially beer companies, capitalized on the celebratory nature of the day and began to promote it.”

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