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Celebrate 5 de Mayo: commemorate the history behind
Cinco de mayo is a national holiday that proudly recalls the victory of the Mexican army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Learn how this historic event is celebrated in Mexico and in the United States.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is one of the most important events in Mexican culture. It is the opportunity to commemorate a historical event with a traditional Mexican party with a great celebration, authentic Mexican food and lots of joy.
Throughout Mexico, as well as in some towns in the United States, this event celebrated yearly on May 5th, according to the victory of the Mexican army over the French, during the Franco-Mexican war in 1862.
It is an event that has transcended time and gives identity to Mexican citizens who commemorate the battle of Puebla with great pride.
The Day of the Battle of Puebla, every 5th of May has become a commemoration of Mexican culture, especially in towns where Mexican-American citizens live.
History of Cinco de Mayo
The story behind the Cinco de Mayo celebration is very interesting. In 1861, when the distinguished lawyer Benito Juárez was elected president of Mexico, that country faced serious financial problems after facing internal conflicts for years. Even the Mexican government could not cover its economic debts with some European governments.
Because of this, France, England, and Spain sent military forces to the Mexican state of Veracruz to demand the respective payment. And although Great Britain and Spain withdrew their armies after reaching a negotiation with Mexico, France, then ruled by Napoleon III, continued with the offensive to establish its empire on Mexican lands.
At the time, 6,000 French soldiers, commanded by General Charles de Lorencez, arrived to attack the Mexican army in Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in central eastern Mexico’s Puebla state.
In response, Juárez gathered 2,000 men and indigenous people, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, to defend the country from the French invasion. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez led an assault with his soldiers and with the support of heavy artillery.
The battle of Puebla lasted a few hours until the French finally withdrew. It was a great victory for General Zaragoza against French troops.
It is important to mention that Mexico’s victory on May 5 was also possible because of the support of the United States in helping the Mexican-Americans.
What is the celebration of Cinco de Mayo (or Battle of Puebla) Day?
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with different festivities that are always accompanied by the emblematic colors of the Mexican flag.
Cinco de Mayo is commemorated mainly in the state of Puebla, where the armed confrontation and the victory of Zaragoza took place, but in different parts of Mexico the historic date is celebrated.
Battle of Puebla Day takes place with a traditional festival that includes military parades, re-enactments of the fight against the French army, massive events full of Mexican folk, and the preparation of delicious Mexican dishes.
In the United States, this victory for the Mexican army is remembered as well. The Chicano community publicized the historic event as a way to recognize the victory of indigenous Mexicans over European invaders during the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
In many communities, especially in the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, the Battle of Puebla is celebrated with parades, parties, mariachis, folkloric dances and Mexican dishes, where you can enjoy tacos or mole poblano. Even in any local Mexican restaurant you can find these delights of Mexican cuisine.
Why is Cinco de Mayo confused with Mexican Independence Day?
It must be said that Cinco de Mayo, although it is a national holiday, holds a completely different story from Mexican Independence Day.
Independence in Mexico or the day that Mexican independence from Spain is celebrated on September 16.
This day marks the anniversary of the famous “Grito de Dolores” when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called on Mexicans to rise up in arms against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.
Mexican independence was declared more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. And every year, it is also celebrated with great events, authentic Mexican food, great joy and solemn acts to remember the Mexican heroes.