Sac State students celebrate the history of Cinco de Mayo

Isabel Ward

The well-celebrated Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, has spread food, festivities and mariachi bands across the bordering state of California. But at Sacramento State, some students are well aware of the history behind all of the partying. 

Undeclared freshman Victor Garibay, who went to school in Mexico, said that like many Hispanics in Mexico his family passes over Cinco de Mayo as a holiday.

“I don’t think it’s really important in the history of Mexico,” Garibay said. “It’s great we know we beat the French, but it’s not quite (as) important.”

Garibay said he thinks it is the media who encourage the event and many people do not really know that it is not Mexican Independence day.

“(The K-12 school system) doesn’t teach history very well,” Garibay said.  “I think they should, so that people (can) become more aware (of) the situation.”

In a brief critical view paper by sociology professor and interim director of the Serna Center at Sac State Manuel Barajas, he said “This history that took place 151 years ago was central in shaping the current status and relation of the neighboring nations.”

According to, though it is not a highly observed today in Mexico itself, the celebrated day has spread to the U.S. – primarily those regions where many Mexican-Americans live, like Los Angeles, Chicago and Texas.

Junior psychology major Anthony McCray said he thinks it is important to recognize Cinco de Mayo.

“I think that it’s great that the United States recognizes (Cinco de Mayo) and wants to celebrate and partake as well,” McCray said. 

Graduating senior psychology major Krystal Sarraraz, whose family is from Central Mexico, said her mother is vice president of the organization El Consilio Council For The Spanish Speaking in Stockton and runs the Cinco de Mayo parade there.

“(The parade is) all the big shebang,” Sarraraz said. “There’s nothing (else) really here – like a day for us (Mexicans).”

Cinco de Mayo goes all the way back to the Battle of Puebla. states indigenous Mexican men fought against an army of 6,000 French troops to remain free of French rule. As the French troops set out to defeat the outnumbered Mexican army, the Mexican men were sent to the small town of Puebla de Los Angeles, where they overcame the forceful French army, killing 500 soldiers and losing fewer than 100 Mexican soldiers.

The victory spawned a time of Mexican opposition, and six years later France withdrew with the help of the U.S.

Not to be confused with the celebration of Mexican independence, Cinco de Mayo is symbolic for this victory in Puebla, while 50 years before, on September 16, the war against Spanish colonial government was declared – that of which is the celebration of Mexican independence.

Sarraraz said Cinco de Mayo is not like the independence of Mexico, but it is a day to have fun. 

“It’s kind of more to celebrate here who you are – your ethnicity,” Sarraraz said.