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Why you’re drinking Jose Cuervo and Corona today

Whitney Beyer

The Broadside

La fiesta de Cinco de Drinko!

Or at least that’s how we know it here in the United States. Or maybe that’s just how I know it.

For me, Cinco de Mayo is one of the best holidays of the year and here’s why: Mexican food is among the best food in the world and any reason to eat fresh guacamole and homemade tamales is fine by me; the spirits are high, the chili lights are lit, and the mariachi music is blaring; and finally, Jose Cuervo and Corona – enough said.

While I may have no legitimate ties to the culture and no real reason to celebrate other than the fact that some close family friends have Mexican roots and throw a killer party every year, I do know why I’m chasing tequila with lime.

Contrary to widespread assumption, we’re not drinking in honor of Mexico’s independence day. Mexico declared its independence from the country of Spain on September 16, 1810 and didn’t gain it until 11 years later in 1821.

On May 5, we fiesta because of an epic battle between the Mexican army and the French army in 1862. The Mexicans were outnumbered 4,500 to 6,500 and yet somehow managed to defeat the French in their march toward Mexico City.

Unfortunately, this exciting victory that instilled a sense of pride and unity throughout the country was short lived. After hearing about the defeat, 30,000 additional French soldiers were sent overseas to finish the job, and finish the job they did.

After defeating the Mexicans, the French installed Maximilian as the ruler of Mexico. This rule of Mexico was short lived as well, lasting from 1864 to 1867. After the end of the American Civil War, the United States was able to supply the Mexicans with the necessary aid so they could execute Maximilian and regain control of their country.

While none of this happened on May 5, that initial battle in which the Mexicans defeated the better-prepared French was enough cause for a national holiday in celebration of the glorious moment.

So, even though I’m not Mexican, I’m all for celebrating the bravery of our neighbors down south with a couple of shots and some salsa; and now that you know what this Cinco de Mayo is all about, you can do so as well in an educated fashion.

You may contact Whitney Beyer at wbeyer@cocc.edu

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