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What is Cinco de Mayo?

Published Monday, May 5, 2014 12:10 am

BRADENTON – Today, many Americans will be doing something festive, from gorging on tacos and gorditas, to knocking back a few Coronas. Yet many will ask the question of what exactly the 5th of May celebrates. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French soldiers at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The battle was part of the Franco-Mexican War, an invasion of Mexico by Napoleon III, which was supported by the U.K. and Spain.

The Battle of Puebla was significant for several reasons, including the fact that the Mexican victory was over a much larger and better-equipped French army. 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated 8,000 French Foreign Legionaries who had much better weaponry and had not lost a battle in half a century.

The Battle of Puebla also marks the last time that Mexico, or any country in the Americas for that matter, has been invaded by a European military force.

A relatively-minor holiday in Mexico, it is primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla).

In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Traditions include parades, mariachi music and even street festivals.

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