Cinco De Mayo is celebrated every year on May 5 to commemorate the victory of the Mexicans over the French in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.
The term Cinco de mayo translates to "the fifth of May". The day has become more popular in the United States than in Mexico, and it serves as a commemoration of Mexican culture in America.
Cinco de Mayo is not a public holiday, and as such, schools and businesses remain open.
The Franco-Mexican War
After the Mexican-American War and the Reform War, Mexico found itself in near bankruptcy and was unable to pay its debt to some European governments.
President Benito Juárez declared that the debt payment to be put on hold for two years in 1861.
Spain, Britain, and France were not happy with this decision and sent convoys to Veracruz demanding to be paid back.
Juárez managed to negotiate with Britain and Spain but Napolean saw this as an opportunity to establish a French empire in Mexico. He wanted to gain influence in American territories.
So, in late 1861, many French troops attacked Veracruz leading President Juárez and his government to retreat.
But, the 8000 soldiers encountered strong resistance in Puebla, while making their way to Mexico City.
After getting the message about Puebla's attack, President Juárez ordered 4000 men to fortify the town and forts of Loreto and Guadalupe.
Even though Mexicans were under-prepared and the French were heavily armed, the French were forced to retreat by early evening with a loss of approximately 500 soldiers.
On the other hand, Mexicans lost less than 100 men. This victory gave the Mexicans a great morale boost and strengthened their resistance, as well as their sense of community and patriotism.
How Is Cinco De Mayo Observed
The commemoration of this day in the US began in California in 1863 at the hands of Mexican miners who were residing here and wanted to celebrate the victory.
Cinco De Mayo became known all over the country in the 1940s during the Chicano movement. However, it became really popular in the 1980s.
The celebrations emphasize Mexican culture, food, and music, and Cinco de Mayo events feature Baile Folklorico and mariachi demonstrations.
A movement across the globe
Cinco de Mayo is now celebrated across the whole globe, in Australia, The United Kingdom, and anywhere that there is a community of Mexicans or people who find pleasure in Mexcian food and culture. You can find banners and decorations, and in schools there will be events and activities to educate students on the history and cultural significance of Cinco de Mayo.