Most people living in the United States know that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday. What they do not realize is that it is not the Independence day of Mexico nor do they realize that it is celebrated much more across the United States then it is in Mexico.
The reason for celebrating May 5th is that it commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, some 52 years after Mexican Independence, where a French army was defeated by the Mexican army. The French, along with the British and Spanish, had landed forces looking to reclaim debts owned to them by the government of Mexico who had fallen on hard times due to a number of factors. The British and Spanish soon left, having made arrangements with the government but the French used the occasion to further their colonial expansion. Though the French did eventually take Mexico City and install their own ruler for a time. The victory by the Mexican forces did demonstrate that those of the new world would and could join together to defend themselves, this French defeat was the first in a very long time.
Today, in Mexico,the actual holiday is celebrated primarily in the State of Puebla with limited recognition in the rest of the country. However in the United States the 5th of May as continued to increase in popularity as a celebration on Mexican culture and heritage. Many cities now have both festivals and parades in the days prior to or on the 5th showcasing many Mexican traditions. It seems very interesting that for a day that is becoming more and more popular that deals with the heritage of the country the fact that most people think it is a completely different the celebration as well as it is not really celebrated much in it’s own country.