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Cinco de Mayo
Battle of Puebla
Observed by Mexicans, mixed nationality
Type Multinational
Significance Celebration of the Mexican victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862
Celebrations Parades, food, music, folkloric dancing
Date May 5
Next time 5 May 2024 (2024-05-05)
Frequency annual
Related to El Día de la Batalla de Puebla
Cinco de Mayo, 1901 poster
1901 poster for Cinco de Mayo: "May 5, 1862 and the siege of Puebla"

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a holiday celebrating Mexican heritage and pride, and is held on May 5. It is celebrated in the United States and in some parts of Mexico, mostly in the state of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, the most important national holiday in Mexico.

In the Mexican state of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated because the Mexican army won the Battle of Puebla from the French army on May 5, 1862. This was a surprising victory. The army was under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

Mexican victory

The victory represented a significant morale boost to the Mexican army and the Mexican people at large. In the description of The History Channel, "Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza's success at Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement." As Time magazine remarked, "The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath." It helped establish a much-needed sense of national unity and patriotism.


The Battle of Puebla was important for at least two reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much-better-equipped French army. "This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years."

Historian Justo Sierra has written in his Political Evolution of the Mexican People that, had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862, France would have gone to the aid of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and the United States' destiny would have been different.

United States

Cinco de Mayo performers at White House
Cinco de Mayo performers at the White House
Cinco de Mayo celebration in Saint Paul, Minnesota

In the United States Cinco de Mayo is more important than in Mexico. It is a day to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry. This is in the same way as other holidays like Saint Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by many Americans, not only by Americans of Mexican origin. Celebrations use both traditional Mexican symbols, like the Virgen de Guadalupe, and prominent figures with Mexican roots in the United States, including César Chávez. Many people display Cinco de Mayo banners while schools organize events to educate pupils about Mexico.

Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklórico and mariachi demonstrations held every year at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles, near Olvera Street. Businesses advertise Mexican products and services, especially Mexican drinks, foods, and music.


Vista fuerte derecha
The former Forts of Guadalupe and Loreto now house a museum.

On May 9, 1862, President Juárez declared that the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla would be a national holiday regarded as "Battle of Puebla Day" or "Battle of Cinco de Mayo".

Today, the commemoration of the battle is not observed as a national holiday in Mexico (i.e. not a statutory holiday). However, all public schools are closed nationwide in Mexico on May 5. The day is an official holiday in the State of Puebla, where the Battle took place, and also a full holiday (no work) in the neighboring State of Veracruz. In Puebla, historical reenactments, parades, and meals take place to commemorate the battle. Parade participants dress as French and Mexican soldiers to reenact the battle.


Cinco de mayo bush
Cinco de Mayo dancers greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush

Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated outside Mexico and the United States. For example, a sky-diving club near Vancouver, Canada, holds a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event. In the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, there is a yearly Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition. As far away as the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, revelers are encouraged to drink Mexican beer on May 5.

Related pages

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cinco de Mayo para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Famous Hispanic activists
Rodolfo Gonzales
Ernesto Galarza
César Chávez
Oscar Zeta Acosta
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