Californians are a bit crazy. Cheerfully so. Any excuse for a party, a celebration, however obscure or irrelevant, will be grasped with both hands and made into a spectacle that may or may not have a thing to do with its origin.
This is my kind of crazy.
In 1862, 155 years ago to this very day, an ill-equipped army of Mexicans defeated twice their number of well-armed French soldiers. This happened at the end of the Reform War, which not a lot of people know about, really. The History Channel said of the battle, “Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement.”
It was such a morale boost that Mexican miners in California’s gold country boisterously celebrated the news.
That’s more or less how Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May, for the Spanish-challenged) became primarily a Californian holiday: it’s been celebrated in California since 1863, and pretty much ignored in Mexico except as its status as an official holiday.
So what will be served at the Villa tonight? Mexican food, of course – and genuine Mexican too, thank you very much.