Why do so many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Do they even know what it’s about?
Cinco de Mayo translates to ‘fifth of May.’ Many Americans and even a large number of Mexicans in the US believe that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but they are wrong. Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16, not May 5.
Cinco de Mayo is the date commemorating the Mexican Army victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla back in 1862.
After the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and the Reform War of 1858-61, France occupied most of Mexico. In 1861, a large French military force arrived at Veracruz and began their drive towards Mexico City. The French were so powerful that they drove Mexican President Benito Juarez into a withdrawal away from the marching French army. However, on way to Mexico City, the 6,000 man French Army was defeated by a 2,000 man Mexican Army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. The date was May 5, 1862.
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