by Terry Rogers
Cinco de Mayo, celebrated each year on May 5th, is an important holiday in the Mexican culture. Since the holiday is so important, La Hacienda will be celebrating in both their Milford and Dover locations.
“We are opening our doors at 11 AM,” Carlos Estrada, owner of La Hacienda said. “We will have drink specials, buckets of beer and margaritas. We will have music and giveaways all day long. We take pride in our community and aim to do more than bring great food, fun and excitement to the area. Through charitable donations and other community activities, we give back, teaching locally about the vibrancy of the Mexican culture and have a lot of fun along the way.”
Although many people are aware that the Mexican people celebrate Cinco de Mayo, few understand the reason for the celebration. According to Estrada, it is not a celebration of Mexican Independence Day as many believe. The holiday actually celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in the battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.
In 1821, Mexico battled Spain for independence, but the country suffered years of political takeovers as well as wars like the Mexican Civil War and the Mexican-American War. While the country tried to gain footing after gaining independence from Spain, Mexico became heavily indebted to England, Spain and France. Although all three countries sent naval forces to Vera Cruz to demand repayment, only Spain and England were able to negotiate a settlement and peacefully withdrew.
France, under the leadership of Napoleon III, wanted to expand their empire. This was not only an opportunity to expand, but also would provide France with a link to the United States during the Civil War. France intended to support the Confederacy in an effort to keep the United States split into two less-powerful entities. The fact that Mexico owed France considerable debt allowed Napoleon to gain a foothold in the country.
Mexico did not support the Confederacy during the Civil War as many Latinos feared that if slavery were permitted to continue in the United States, many of their own people would become enslaved. In Arizona, New Mexico and California, large numbers of Mexicans joined the United States Army, specifically the calvary, in an effort to help the Union defeat the Confederacy. Mexico had outlawed slavery 50 years earlier and did not want it to return under French rule.
All of this led to the Battle of Puebla which closed off a major access point in the United States that Napoleon hoped to take advantage of as part of his support for the Confederacy. During the war, Latinos often supported both Mexican and United States flags to show support for the Union as well as the Mexican values they were fighting to protect under the French.
Mexico was not expected to defeat France in the battle since their militia was small in contrast to the strong French militia who outnumbered the Mexicans by 2,000. Despite the fact that Mexico won the Battle of Puebla, they actually lost the war. Napoleon III appointed a relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria as ruler of Mexico. Maximilian was executed by firing squad six years later when the United States forced France to remove troops from Mexico. President Benito Juarez became the leader of the country.
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the “Good Neighbor Policy” in order to encourage and improve the United States’ relationship with Latin American countries. Cinco de Mayo became a popular celebration of Mexican heritage, especially during this era, and the celebration has continued since.
“We are excited to share this Cinco de Mayo with all of our new friends and neighbors in Milford and the surrounding area,” Estrada said.”
La Hacienda is located at 611 North Dupont Boulevard in Milford. They are open Monday through Thursday from 11 AM until 10 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11 AM until 11 PM and on Sunday from 11 AM until 9 PM. Reach them at 302-725-5546.