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More Than Mariachis – The Origins of Cinco-de-Mayo

Ever wonder why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the US and Mexico? Every May 5th, Americans take the opportunity to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parades, mariachi, Mexican folk dancing, Mexican food, and margaritas. A relatively minor holiday in Mexico has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States. But the question is, what does May 5th really celebrate?

It is not the birth of Captain William G. Dana, settler of Rancho Nipomo in 1839, although it falls on the same day. Nor is it Mexican independence from Spain as most might think. A talk by DANA docent, Stephen Siemens, titled “More Than Mariachis – The Origins of Cinco-de-Mayo” invites you to discover California’s unique connection to this popular holiday, from the events surrounding the Battle of Puebla (May 5, 1862) to early observances in California.

The talk will take place at the DANA Adobe Cultural Center on Sunday, April 29, at 2:00 PM. DANA members are able to attend the talk for free, otherwise, admission is $5.00.


Stephen Siemsen (SEEM-sen) was born in Venice, California, and lived in Lompoc from 1958 to 1965. A 34-year career with the Army and Department of Defense sent him everywhere but California. Now retired, Stephen and his wife Lisa reside in Orcutt. Besides his interest in California history, Stephen also enjoys birdwatching, camping, and genealogy.