PORT CHESTER, N.Y. When people outside La Placita Marketplace on Main Street in Port Chester were asked Saturday why people celebrate Cinco de Mayo, many thought it meant Mexican independence.
However, Port Chester resident Wendy Gonzalez, an employee of La Placita, knew that was incorrect. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican army's winning the Battle of Puebla over France in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, and the country celebrates that on Sept. 16. Gonzalez, who is not Mexican herself, knew the answer because she has friends from Mexico.
"A lot of people are confused about that," Gonzalez said. "I still celebrate the day mostly at home, where we have a barbecue."
Greenwich resident John Borelli, who is not of Mexican descent, said he thought Cinco de Mayo celebrated the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), which is a holiday in Mexico where people honor their ancestors on Nov. 1.
Still, Borelli said that on Cinco de Mayo he celebrates Mexican culture and typically will eat Mexican food. That Borelli celebrates the holiday even though he has no historical link to Mexico shows how diverse the people who celebrate Cinco de Mayo are.
"You don't have to speak Spanish to enjoy it," Borelli said. "The fact that people of all backgrounds will celebrate Cinco de Mayo shows how great America is and what our country is all about."
Port Chester resident Antonio Silva, who is originally from Mexico, knew what Cinco de Mayo meant right away. Silva said the tradition of celebrating the day got really big in California, since it used to be a part of Mexico. Silva said he looks forward to Cinco de Mayo every year and will get with his family and friends to barbecue.
"Mexico is so close to the United States that it makes sense why Americans celebrate it," Silva said. "The holiday celebrates our culture in Mexico. It's also good for business. Stores can sell a lot of Mexican tequila and food."
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