On this day in 1862 which came to be known as Cinco de Mayo, a small Mexican army defeated a larger and more powerful invading French army. A motley crew 2,000 Mexican fighters hunkered down in the small town of Puebla de Los Angeles and fended off a force of 6,000 French soldiers. The battle lasted only one day but resulted in the French army losing five times more troops than the Mexican army. Realizing they were succumbing to a superior force, the French troops retreated.
The Battle of Puebla became the symbol of opposition and its memory became the symbol of Mexican warrior spirit. The seemingly impossible victory at the Battle of Puebla displayed what the Japanese call “Yamato-damashii.” Yamato-damashii (大和魂) is used to when people talk about one’s “fighting spirit” but its more than that. Yamato-damashii refers to one’s soul which causes them to exhibit extraordinary spirit and character in the face of overwhelming odds.
The people who stayed and fought against a force that was bigger, better equipped and seemingly more knowledgeable took great courage. It showed the extraordinary soul and spirit of the Mexican people – it showed their yamato-damashii.
Enjoy your Cinco de Mayo!