The history of Cinco de Mayo

Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor

The Mexican holiday “Cinco de Mayo” that takes place every year on the fifth of May is much more than a day to just appreciate delicious Mexican cuisine. It is a day that celebrates the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The holiday isn’t considered the biggest deal in Mexico. However, in the United States, it has turned into a very popular day to appreciate Mexican heritage and culture. It is largely recognized in Mexican-American communities.

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash.

Cinco de Mayo is in celebration and recognition of the “Battle of Puebla,” which lasted from early morning to late evening after the French soldiers had retreated. The French lost up to 500 soldiers, while the Mexicans lost fewer than 100. This was after 6,000 French troops set out to attack Puebla de Los Angelesin east-central Mexico. The Mexicans were heavy underdogs who were set to lose. They were completely outnumbered and didn’t have as many supplies and resources as the French came prepared with. This battle and win was not a huge turning point for the Mexicans in the war against the French. However, the success on May 5 represented an inspiring victory for the Mexican government and further boosted and motivated the resistance movement. 

Today, many people commemorate the holiday with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods. Some of the largest Cinco de Mayo festivals are in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.


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