It's Cinco de Mayo today, the annual holiday commemorating the Mexican Army's defeat over French forces during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It's also a holiday that's often confused for Mexico's Independence Day—September 16, 1810—or the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, while others see it as a holiday created purely for partying.
With all these misconceptions floating around, Patch decided to hit the streets to find out what locals believe to be the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo, and here's what they had to say:
“Cinco de Mayo is like, celebrating the independence of Mexico and just how we stood up and like made a name for ourselves cause we just wanted liberty,” Watsonville High student Oscar Ramirez, 17, said.
High school students José Raygoza and Dyani Jacobo said Cinco de Mayo signifies the start of the Mexican Revolution.
“Its a Mexican revolution [and] I'm pretty sure Zapata was in it,” said Raygoza, 17. “We fought the French, I guess, and we lost... no we won the war.”
“[It's celebrating] the revolution against the French and I think we lost it—I don't think we won it,” Pajaro Valley High student Jacobo, 16, said. “No we won it, otherwise we'd be speaking French right now," Raygoza argued.
Ricardo Ballardo also said he believes that Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Revolution.
“I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think it was the Emilio (Emiliano) Zapata war where Pancho Villa and Emilio Zapata existed back then,” Ballardo, 26, of Watsonville said. “The Mexican Revolution won the war and that's what they're celebrating basically, so everybody celebrates, makes these folkloric dances and everything and all the Spanish and Mexicans get together and make a party out of it.”
John Deanda, says he thinks of Cinco de Mayo from a Mexican-pride standpoint.
“[Cinco de Mayo is about] Mexican pride, the Mexican flag and the American flag, and just celebrates the Mexican pride pretty much and is just a party for all the Mexicans,” Deanda, 24, of Watsonville said.
Scott Gurin, 22, of Watsonville said people are more concerned with celebrating Cinco de Mayo than they are with understanding its history.
“I thought it was Mexican Independence, but I guess I was wrong and I think it's actually a reason to celebrate and get drunk and that's the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo,” Gurin said. “I think the history got lost in the partying and nobody knows what the true meaning is anymore, so why not just celebrate that?”
Patch got a little closer to the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo with Watsonville resident Bob Larsen, who said the holiday signifies Mexico's independence from France—the country that was attempting to assume control of Mexico in 1862, but was defeated during the Battle of Puebla.
“I think the real Independence Day is in September—independence from Spain—and I could be wrong but I think Cinco de Mayo was a smaller Independence day, celebrating their Independence from France,” Larson, 60, said.
Although the majority of interviewees seemed to be unfamiliar with the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo, Patch found one student who hit it spot-on.
“Cinco de Mayo celebrates when we beat the French, also known as La Batalla de Puebla,” said Anyssa Luna, 16, of Pajaro Valley High.
For Cinco de Mayo events and hangouts, check out our .