What Is Cinco De Mayo? It Has More Meaning Than You Might Think

The colors, the culture — the guac. Everything surrounding Cinco de Mayo is fun, festive, and definitely delicious. While it might be a great reason to gather with friends and family to eat fish tacos, your child may not know what the holiday is all about. That’s why it’s important to know what Cinco de Mayo is all about, so that you can have a fiesta that is meaningful as well as memorable.


What Is Cinco de Mayo?

Any day that celebrates chalupas and churros is a good day, but Cinco de Mayo stands for so much more. Cinco de Mayo (which literally translates into the Fifth of May) is a holiday that celebrates May 5, 1862, the date that Mexico’s army defeated France at the Battle of Puebla. This event occurred during the second French intervention in Mexico (otherwise known as the Second Franco-Mexican War). Led by the French Empire of Napoleon III, this military invasion’s goal was to collect the Mexican debts to European governments such as France, Britain, and Spain.

What Was The Outcome Of Cinco de Mayo?

An estimated 6,000 French troops were set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, which is a small town in east central Mexico. At the time, Benito Juarez — a lawyer and a member of Zapotec, an indigenous tribe — was President of Mexico. In response, Juarez created a small army of 2,000 men to fight the French. Led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Mexican army defeated the French, who had lost almost 500 soldiers, while less than 100 Mexicans perished during the battle. The battle (which lasted a single day) ended in the French retreating, and ultimately in 1867, France finally withdrew from Mexico. Also known as the Battle of Puebla Day, Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French.

Is Cinco de Mayo More Popular in the U.S. than Mexico?

If you thought that Cinco de Mayo was a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, think again. Although it’s popular in the state of Puebla, the site of the actual battle, it’s not a national holiday. In Puebla, though, festivities do occur, such as recreations of the Battle of Puebla as well as military parades.

So Why Do We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States?

It might not make sense that Cinco de Mayo has become such a popular day in the U.S. when Mexico doesn’t share the same zeal. But in the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture and is often marked by parties and parades, Mexican mariachi music, and traditional foods. There are also plenty of festivals to partake in during Cinco de Mayo.

Is Cinco De Mayo The Same As Mexican Independence Day?

Even though many people might mistake Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day, the two are not the same. In fact, Mexican Independence Day is September 16 which celebrates when Mexico was freed from Spanish rule. A major motivator of Mexico’s freedom was inspired by Grito de Dolores, a battle cry delivered by parish priest of Dolores, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. He addressed the people of Mexico from the pulpit and encouraged them to revolt against Spain.

While Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican tradition, it also has deep roots in Mexico’s rich history. So as you’re eating some delish mole poblano, ponder the true meaning of the holiday and how it celebrates the human spirit and how hope (and courage) is something that can conquer all.

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