Things That Matter

If You Don’t Know The History Of Cinco De Mayo, Here’s A Brief History Lesson Before You Celebrate The Holiday

Cinco de Mayo is upon us and while there is nothing wrong with going out and having a few margaritas with friends, it is important to know why Cinco de Mayo is even a thing. No. It isn’t Mexico’s Independence Day and for the most part, Mexicans aren’t partying it up all night like most of us do here. There are celebrations but they focus more on the history and significance of the day rather than 2 for 1 margaritas specials and bottomless chips and salsa. Let’s go ahead and break down Cinco de Mayo in a *brief* history lesson.

First, let’s just get this out of the way: Cinco de Mayo ≠ Mexican Independence Day.


If you think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, your history is more than half a century off. Cinco de Mayo is a day to remember and celebrate the Battle of Puebla when Mexican forces unexpectedly defeated French forces in 1862 from an attempted invasion. Mexico got their independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810, a full 52 years before the Battle of Puebla.

It all started in 1861 when Benito Juárez, an indigenous Zapeteco, was elected president of Mexico. However, the Mexican government was low on money and they defaulted on their debts to some European countries.


According to History, years of internal turmoil leading up to Juárez’s election left Mexico in financial ruin. He had no other option than to default on debts owed to some European powers because they just didn’t have the cash. In response, three European countries, Spain, Britain, and France, sent forces to Mexico to demand repayment on the money they had borrowed. Luckily, Juárez was able to negotiate with Spain and Britain and they abandoned their crusade and returned home. However, Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, saw this as an opportunity to take some land and set up shop in Mexico.

Spain, Britain, and France all deployed forces to Mexico for repayment on defaulted debt but Napoleon III of France was the only person who wasn’t willing to negotiate. Instead, he sent his forces to Mexico determined to take some land and create an empire.


The first thing France did was drive Juárez, his government, and his forces out of Veracruz by force.


According to History, with the government and military forces in retreat and expecting an instant victory, 6,000 French troops under the direction of General Charles Latrille de Lorencez began their march to Puebla de Los Ángeles.

French forces quickly began advancing onto Puebla de Los Ángeles on their way to Mexico City to continue their invasion.


Puebla, as it is known today, is located between Veracruz and Mexico City. According to The Guardian, Puebla was founded more than 500 years ago by Spaniards as a travel town since it was located between the two major cities. So, obviously, in order for the French to make it to Mexico City, they would have followed the most traveled path between the two landing them right into Puebla.

But, what the French didn’t know was that Juárez had assembled a group of 2,000 men who, led by Texas-born Ignacio Zaragoza, were ready to fight for Mexico.


The French really had no idea what was waiting for them. But, let’s not forget that the French had 6,000 troops while Mexico had only 2,000. Just by the numbers, it seemed like France was going to steamroll right through Puebla on their way to Mexico City.

When the French made it to Puebla, it was May 5, 1862 and the battle began to rage. According to History, the battle went on for less than a day before the French admitted defeat in the battle and retreated.


The Mexican troops who were both smaller in number and significantly under armed, prevailed. The French lost 500 men in the Battle of Puebla while the Mexico lost just under 100 men. The French did retreat from Puebla defeated, but it wasn’t the last time the French would take aim at this town. Between March and May of 1863, the French returned and conquered Puebla, according to Napoleon.Org. By July of 1863, French forces had taken control of Mexico City and Juárez was with his troops in San Luis Potosí and established their French empire in Mexico. It wasn’t until 1867, when Napoleon III became disillusioned with ruling Mexico, that French forces began leaving Mexico.

To this day, Mexicans remember the day of their unexpected victory with reenactments and parades.


Sure. Some people party but the point of Cinco de Mayo isn’t about drinking and partying, but remembering a time when only 2,000 Mexican forces were able to stop the conquering of Mexico by French forces.

You can watch an ABC news story about Cinco de Mayo below:


READ: White House Decides To Celebrate Cinco De Mayo A Day Early And Social Media Isn’t Having It

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Here Are Nine Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Puerto Rico

Culture

Here Are Nine Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Puerto Rico

Pixabay

Over the last couple of years, Puerto Rico has been in the news probably more than ever. From the lingering effects of Hurricane Maria to the resignation of the island’s governor over a sexist and homophobic scandal, Puerto Rico has seen its share of environmental and political drama. Meanwhile, the island is also home to some of the world’s top artists – Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Residente – just to name a few.

But unless you or your family are actually Puerto Rican, very few people really know the island. Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll uncover all manner of surprising facts far beyond the white sands and crystal-clear waters. Whether it’s science, geography or politics, here are nine fascinating insights into this unique and beautiful island.

1. Rum, Rum, And Más Rum

Credit: BacardiUSA / Instagram

Rum is the libation of choice, the island’s chief export, and the base ingredient in many of Puerto Rico’s best cocktails. Puerto Rico and rum go way back, about 400 years, give or take a decade. Bacardi and Don Q are the largest producers on the island.

Puerto Rico is the only rum producer in the world to maintain a minimum aging law for its rum. You can get three main categories of rum here: light, dark, and añejo, or aged.

2. It’s About The Size Of Connecticut

Credit: Google Earth

Given its population (it’s one of the most densely populated islands in the world), Puerto Rico is a relatively small place. If it were a state, it would be down near the bottom of the list in terms of size, even if you include the network of islands around the mainland.

3. It’s Home To The World’s Largest Radio Telescope

Credit: NASA Blueshift / Flickr

Not known as a scientific hub, Puerto Rico has a technological marvel nestled in the hills of Arecibo. The dish measures 1,000 feet in diameter, spans about 20 acres, and is the most sensitive radio telescope in the world.

There’s a chance you’ve seen the Arecibo radio telescope, even if you’ve never been to Puerto Rico before. In the climactic last scene in the James Bond movie Goldeneye, the (inevitable) showdown between 007 and the bad guy takes place right here.

4. It’s Mascot Is The Unique Coquí Tree Frog

Credit: UIG / Getty

Anyone who has been to Puerto Rico is familiar with the incredible coquí, which is native to the island. The inch-long amphibian has a powerful and melodic voice, and its high-pitched, chirrupy song can be heard for miles.

The coquís sing from dusk to dawn, and while the locals find this a lilting lullaby, unsuspecting foreigners aren’t always comforted by their song. But they are cute, and a much-loved symbol of Puerto Rico.

5. It’s One Of The World’s Beauty Queen Capitals

Credit: Alfredo Marcia / Flickr

The Miss Universe beauty pageant is one of the biggest and most famous across the globe. Among the countries whose representatives have won the title more than once is Puerto Rico. Despite the island’s small size and population in comparison with other countries, 5 winners have come from Puerto Rico: Marisol Malaret, Deborah Carthy Deu, Dayanara Torres, Denise Quinones, and Zuleyka Rivera.

6. The Island Was Home To Real Life Pirates

El Pirata Cofresi is Puerto Rico’s most famous, real-life pirate as the legend goes. Born in the seaside town of Cabo Rojo, he was encouraged to dream about exploring the sea from sailors in town.

According to Cofresi Palm Resort, as a pirate Cofresi would attack boats and share his spoils with the poor and as a result, people would help him hide. Compared to Robin hood for his actions, there is a story that says that some of his treasure may still be hidden.

7. It’s Home To Its Own Version Of The Galapagos Islands

Credit: US National Park Service

Off the western shore of mainland Puerto Rico you’ll find Mona Island, a natural reserve unspoiled by man. It has been compared to the Galapagos Islands for its natural beauty and its colony of iguanas. These iguanas, known as the Mona Iguana, are found nowhere else on earth, adding to the uniqueness of this ecosystem.

8. Coconuts Aren’t Native To Puerto Rico – Or The Americas At All

Credit: Unsplash

You might picture yourself on the beach sipping delicious coconut water out of a freshly cut coconut, but did you know that coconuts are not native to the Americas?

The coconut was introduced to Puerto Rico in 1542, after the Spanish imported it from the Far East. Soon after it became part of the colonial Spanish diet and eventually emerged in one of the most popular drinks on the island – the Piña Colada.

9. San Juan Served As Headquarters During The Spanish Inquisition

Credit: ViejoPR / Instagram

The Catholic Church has played an important role in the history and development of Puerto Rico since the early 1500s. As mentioned before, the oldest church still in use in the Americas was built in Old San Juan in 1522, yet, in 1519 Pope Leo X declared Puerto Rico the first ecclesiastical headquarters in the New World. 

As a result, Puerto Rico became the epicenter of the Spanish Inquisition – one of the most barbaric and infamous events of Western civilization.

Vanessa Bryant’s Daughters Threw Her The Sweetest Cinco de Mayo Birthday

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant’s Daughters Threw Her The Sweetest Cinco de Mayo Birthday

Every year since they first got together in November of 1999, Vanessa Bryant and her late husband, basketball great Kobe Bryant, have celebrated her birthday. That’s 21 years of birthdays and looking to the future. This year, Bryant celebrated her birthday, not alone, but also not with the longtime partner she has called the love of her life.

The mother of four rang in her 38th birthday alongside her three remaining daughters.

Bryant’s daughters Natalia, 17, and Bianka, 3, and Capri, 10 months surprised their mother with flower arrangements and an abundance of piñatas.

“#CincodeMayo #TacoTuesday #micumpleaños 🎂 Thx to my girls for ordering these flowers and piñatas for mama. ❤️😘,” Vanessa captioned the photo featuring her celebrations with her daughters on Instagram.

Vanessa shared more of the sweet celebrations on her Instagram Story and boy, did her daughters go all out for her birthday.

Vanessa Bryant Instagram
Vanessabryant/ Instagram

No doubt, Bryant, who is is of Mexican descent, has an undeniably special birthdate considering it lands on Cinco de Mayo.

Bryant also shared a photo of a sweet card from her oldest daughter, Natalia that hints at the closeness of their relationship.

Vanessa Bryant Instagram
Vanessabryant/ Instagram

“You are strongest person I know and I am so grateful to have you as my mom! I will always be the Ethel to your Lucy!” Natalia wrote on the note.

It’s been nearly five months since the tragic death of NBA great Kobe Bryant and his similarly talented daughter Gianna. Grief still lingers for their loved ones left behind however and recently, Vanessa Bryant was reminded of her tragic loss once more as she was forced to celebrate her own birthday without her late husband and daughter.

Still, despite their noted absence on her big day, Bryant was given an emotional surprise that, while bitter, seemed very sweet.

On May 5th, Bryant celebrated her birthday and shared a special surprise from her day on Instagram.

In a post to her Instagram page, Bryant revealed that before her birthday, she found an envelope addressed to her and from her late husband.

“Yesterday I found an envelope labeled To: The Love of my Life. From, Tu Papi I waited to open one more letter on my birthday. It gave me something to look forward to today. The irony is that Kobe had a photo of me drawn with an Angel holding me up by an artist on the cover. Missing the Love of my Life and my sweet little Mamacita- my fellow Taurus. Grateful to wake up to my 3 sweet girls today. Wish we were all together,” she wrote in the caption.

Bryant kept the message left behind for her private, but we can only imagine how emotional her experience in reading it was.

Bryant’s surprising post comes just a few days after she celebrated her deceased daughter Gigi’s birthday. In a caption about her birthday, Bryant encouraged Instagramers to “consider wearing red, caption an act of kindness or show how you will play Gigi’s way since she always gave everything she did her all and led with kindness.” She also asked fans to use the hashtag #PlayGigisWay to join in celebrating her daughter while also sharing an image of a special bracelet with her daughter’s nickname on it. “We are in the process of making this bracelet available for proceeds to benefit our Mamba and Mambacita foundation. I will update you with a post when we have them available for purchase),” she wrote.