Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo in Mexico City

Cinco de Mayo doesn't mean much in Mexico. It's a Mexican-American holiday, celebrating the Mexican army's defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The French supported the Confederacy in the American Civil War, so when the French were defeated, Mexicans living in the western United States were delighted.

Here in Mexico, people celebrate September 16 as Mexican Independence Day, the day in 1810 that Mexico began to war to throw over Spanish colonial rule.

No matter the date, though, at the Monumento a la Revolucion Mexicana, that Art Deco massif in downtown Mexico City people are celebrating - on Cinco de Mayo as on any other night.

Originally planned in 1910 as a palatial new legislative building, but abandoned as a steel skeleton in 1912, the monument has experienced repeated rebirth. First in 1936 when it was redesigned as a bombastic public monument to revolutionary ideals, but again in 2010, when the nation rescued it from 1970s era deterioration.

These days, it's always busy, with strolling families and sightseers riding the elevators to the viewing deck. Right around the corner from our hotel, we can hear the sound of marching bands drilling in the wide plaza.

But tonight the best attraction is the centennial fountain - playing its light and water show continuously from dusk to 10 pm.

What better way to celebrate than with hordes of happy, delighted, shrieking kids splashing around in spray of water and colored light?