Portland Cinco de Mayo | The History Behind Cinco de Mayo
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The History Behind Cinco de Mayo

The History Behind Cinco de Mayo

The Cinco de Mayo is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over the French Empire on May 5, 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Mexico’s victory is said to have prevented Napoleon from acting on his intent to aid the Confederacy during the Civil War. In the state of Puebla there are traditions of military parades, ceremonies, parties and celebrations. It has become a source of pride and unity for the people. However, It is generally not a holiday that is celebrated throughout Mexico–it is largely a U.S. holiday.

There is a misunderstanding of what Cinco de Mayo is truly about here in the United States. Americans across the US mark the occasion by throwing parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and eating traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. It is not, as is often assumed, a celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain, which is actually held on September 16. It is believed that the origins of Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the U.S. are a result of the reactions of Mexicans living in California in the 1860’s to the defeat of the French. The Portland Cinco de Mayo Fiesta has turned into one of the largest celebrations held in U.S. Every year the fiesta attracts thousands of people.

The Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association (PGSCA) has worked to educate and provide an opportunity to share each other’s food, culture, language, and much more. Tom and Sharon McDonald founded the PGSCA alongside Mayor Bud Clark, Governor Frank Ivancie and many Royal Rosarians and the Mayor of Guadalajara. The PGSCA is one of 9 Portland sister cities; we are the 2nd oldest, established in 1983. In 1985, Sharon and Tom McDonald, along with Ron Flores came up with an idea to celebrate the authentic Latino traditions and culture with the city of Portland and that is when the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta in Portland was born!

This is the PGSCA’s largest fundraiser. The PGSCA uses its funds to support a number of organizations and causes in the community focusing on education, cultural exchange, the arts and other programs. “This year, and in coming years, our guests will notice an increased focus on community partnerships and a larger presence of non-profit organizations that benefit the Portland community,” said PGSCA president, Ivette Flores Schmidt.

Hope to see you there!

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