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What does Cinco de Mayo celebrate?

Cinco de Mayo celebrations
Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S. Pic credit: Rena Dehler/Wikimedia Commons

Cinco de Mayo is being celebrated today across the country. Although the day has been celebrated in the U.S. for more than 150 years, many Americans don’t know why it is celebrated.

If you’ve been wondering why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated every year, here is everything you need to know.

What does Cinco de Mayo celebrate?

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for May 5, and it is a celebration held every year on that date.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican Army, under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza, was able to achieve victory over the French forces of Napoleon III, despite being greatly outnumbered.

Although the victory at Puebla proved to be a huge morale booster for the Mexican troops, the French returned with an even larger force. In 1863, the French defeated General Zaragoza and his forces at the Second Battle of Puebla and took Mexico City.

Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated yearly in California since 1863. The first celebration was by Mexican miners who came to the U.S. to find work.

Los Angeles remains a major center of Cinco de Mayo festivities but the celebration spread quickly among the Hispanic population in the country.

It gained more prominence as the Hispanic population grew and the culture spread in the country.

Although the day is marked in Mexico mostly through art festivals and ceremonial events, such as parades and reenactments, especially in the State of Puebla where the famous battle against the French forces took place, it is much more popular in the U.S. because it is linked with the celebration of Mexican-American culture.

The celebration of Cinco de Mayo by Mexicans and Americans of Mexican and Hispanic descent gained a lot of popularity in the ’80s due partly to the promotion of the festival by the hospitality industry.

Cinco de Mayo is not the same as Mexico’s Independence Day

Many Americans confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexico’s Independence Day. But while Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5, Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 16.

Spain officially recognized Mexico as an independent state on August 24, 1821, when the Treaty of Cordoba was signed.

The signing of the treaty was the culmination of a struggle that started after Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla launched a war of independence on September 16, 1810, issuing a revolutionary tract, Cry of Delores (Grito de Dolores), in which he called for an end to Spanish rule in Mexico.