Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for May Fifth) is a day celebrated in the United States and Mexico to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Army during the Battle of Puebla. In Puebla, Mexico, it is referred to as “El día de la batalla de Puebla” (The Day of the Battle of Puebla). This day was started by Mexican Americans in the days of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate democracy and freedom.
The Mexican Army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French Army’s forces of 8000 men—then considered the strongest military in the world—with only 4500 men!
Though this day is commonly mistaken to be Mexico’s Independence Day in the US, Mexico celebrates its independence September 16. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday in Puebla, Mexico; most businesses are closed on this day.
Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more widely in the United States than Mexico! It’s a celebration started by Mexican Americans that later spread to Mexico. In the US, Cinco de Mayo has evolved beyond its origins to become a wider celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States.