The History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo LogoMany people believe that the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the country’s independence; however, that is incorrect. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a battle won against the French nearly 50 years after Mexico declared its independence. Check out a little about the history and traditions of this holiday.

The Battle of Puebla

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla, which took place during the Franco-Mexican War. The war occurred because Mexico was in financial ruin and defaulted on debts owed to France, Britain and Spain. After negotiations, Britain and Spain withdrew, but France, which was ruled by Napoleon III, did not.

The French sent 6,000 troops to Puebla de Los Angeles, and they faced off against 2,000 Mexicans. The battle lasted nearly the entire day, but the Mexican forces managed to succeed, losing less than 100 men, while the French lost about 500. While this battle wasn’t a big win overall, it did give the Mexican government confidence and helped the resistance movement. About six years later, after the Civil War, America was able to assist, and France finally withdrew.

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in Mexico

Cinco de Mayo is actually only a minor holiday in Mexico. In fact, it’s not even a federal holiday, so banks and offices are still open. The majority of the celebration is held in Puebla where the battle is believed to have occurred. Some traditions to celebrate this holiday include military parades and reenactments of the Battle of Puebla.

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the US

Cinco de Mayo is actually probably more celebrated in the US, especially in areas with a large Mexican-American population. However, it is more than just a celebration of the Battle of Puebla. In the US, it has become a celebration of all Mexican culture and heritage. Many people celebrate with parades, parties, music, folk dancing and traditional foods.

Cinco de Mayo may not be a big deal in Mexico, but it has become a huge day for Mexican-Americans in the US. While it began as a way to celebrate a minor victory that pushed the Mexican resistance forward, in America, it is a day for those of Mexican decent to celebrate their rich culture and heritage.

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