You might be surprised how long it has been celebrated in the US – Orange County Register

American and Mexican flag

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862.

It is not celebrated as a national holiday in Mexico, but schools in Puebla, where the battle took place, are closed that day.

Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16.

A report published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture states that the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the US began in California in 1863 in response to resistance to French rule in Mexico.

Time magazine reports that modern American observance came into fashion in the 1940s during the rise of the Chicano movement.

The Chicano movement focused on issues such as the restoration of land grants, farm worker rights, and education.

Several leaders were Cesar Chavez, Reies Tijerina and Rodolfo Gonzales.

“Preserving one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures,” Chavez said.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo gained a lot of momentum in the 1980s when tequila and beer companies began promoting it.

May 5, 1862. Images of the battle showing the Mexican cavalry overwhelming the French troops under the fortress of Loreto. Scene recreated by Francisco P. Miranda. Oil on canvas, 1872.

Back and forth

The Mexican victory did not last long.

A year later, the French were able to defeat the Mexican army with 30,000 troops and conquer Mexico City.

But three years later, Mexico, with US support, retook the capital and executed the French-installed ruler Maximilian I.

Mexican American

More than a decade before the Mexican victory at Puebla, Mexican citizens became U.S. residents after the annexation of northern Mexico in 1848.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, guaranteed full citizenship to all former Mexicans who requested it.

This actually only applied to the Spanish-Mexican elite. About 80,000 people in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico were granted citizenship.

Things did not come easy for them, as many American settlers lynched Mexicans. Between 1848 and 1860, at least 163 Mexicans were lynched in California under what were largely “frontier laws.”

A large-scale influx of refugees occurred around 1910, when Mexico was in the midst of a revolution and civil war.

California’s only Hispanic governor

Jose Pacheco was born in Santa Barbara in 1831.

His father died just weeks after his birth in the Battle of Cahuenga Pass. The battle was between wealthy landowners and the governor of Alta California.

Pacheco’s father sided with the government and fought on horseback with a lance against Jose Avila of the rebel army. They attacked each other three times, like a joust. When Avila’s lance was knocked to the ground, he shot and killed Romualdo Pacheco.

Jose Pacheco became a judge in San Luis Obispo County at the age of 22 and worked his way up in politics. He was a Republican and became lieutenant governor from 1871 to 1875.

When Governor Newton Booth was elected to the U.S. Senate, Pacheco became California’s 12th governor for less than a year in 1875.

In 1879, he was elected the first Latino to represent a state in the United States Congress. In 1880 he was re-elected.

Census change

The 2030 U.S. Census will include new race and ethnicity check boxes for Hispanic people and people of Middle Eastern and North African descent, the Office of Management and Budget announced this year.

The change is the first in 27 years to include race and ethnicity categories and comes after years of criticism that major racial and ethnic groups are being left out of the demographic set.

In previous censuses, most people of Middle Eastern background were listed under the “White” category, and Hispanic people were considered an ethnicity separate from race. People of North African descent had no clear individual category.

Mexicans make up the largest population of Hispanic descent in the United States, accounting for 60% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2021.

From 2000 to 2021, the population of Mexican descent increased by 79%, from 20.9 million to 37.2 million.

At the same time, the foreign-born Mexican population in the US grew by 23%, from 8.7 million in 2000 to 10.7 million in 2021.

The mixing

The first Cinco de Mayo celebrations did not include margaritas; they were not invented until the 1940s. And consistently icy drinks wouldn’t come until the invention of the frozen margarita machine.

Frozen margaritas, mixed with ice, became popular in the 1950s, and by the 1970s the margarita surpassed the martini as the most popular American cocktail.

At Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine, a restaurant in Dallas, the blenders couldn’t keep up. In 1971, inspired by the 7-Eleven Slurpee machine, owner Mariano Martinez and his friend Frank Adams adapted a soft-serve machine to make margarita “slush.” After 34 years of service, the first was retired to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Mariachi music

Every year in late August, the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico celebrates the largest Mariachi festival in the world: Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi y la Charreria.

The largest Mariachi festival in California takes place on June 8 at the Hollywood Bowl. This year will mark its 35th anniversary and Mariachi USA is the longest-running annual show at the Hollywood Bowl.

“When I reflect on Mariachi USA’s remarkable journey over the past 35 years, I am reminded of the profound connection that exists between our heritage and the music that defines it. It is what I call ‘Mariachi DNA,’ the deep-rooted essence of mariachi music that runs through our veins,” said event promoter Rodri J. Rodriguez on the website

“You obviously don’t have to be Mexican to have Mariachi DNA. I am Cuban myself, but when I hear mariachi, I feel the phenomenal excitement from head to toe.”

Sources: US Census, Office of Management and Budget, California State Library,, Smithsonian, Pew Research Center, UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture