Many people think about Margaritas, Coronas piñatas and tacos when it comes to Cinco de Mayo arrives. But there are reasons why the holiday holiday is celebrated. Cinco de Mayo is the day the Mexican army defeated the French in a seemingly unbeatable battle, and many Americans celebrate the holiday to learn about Mexican culture.
1. “Cinco de Mayo” is Spanish for the fifth of May.
2. Mexico’s Independence Day is Sept. 16. They had already declared their independence from Spain more than 50 years before they battled the French.
3. On May 5, 1862, Mexico fought France in the Battle of Puebla led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza. While France retreated after losing nearly 500 soldiers, less than 100 Mexicans were killed.
4. The victory helped unify Mexico. The country was elated that their poorly armed troops of 4,500 men were able to defeat France’s invasion of 6,500 to 8,000 well-equipped soldiers.
5. Even though Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico, it’s only widely celebrated in Puebla. It’s not recognized as a federal holiday, and all banks, offices and stores remain open. For most Mexicans, it’s just like any other day.
6. Most Mexican Americans see Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican culture, similar to how Irish Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
7. Chicano activists raised awareness of Cinco de Mayo in the 1960s to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. Revelers often celebrate with parties, parades, mariachi music and traditional foods like guacamole, nachos, mole poblano, tacos and burritos.
8. Some of the largest Cinco de Mayo festivals are held in Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago.
9. The colors of Mexico’s flag are green, white and red: green for hope and independence, white for purity and religion and red for Spain and union.
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