Many Americans confuse Cinco de Mayo for Mexican Independence Day, due to its similarity in name to the Fourth of July.

But why is Cinco de May celebrated?

The holiday is generally recognized as a day of celebration of pride in Mexico, much the same way as St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of Irish pride.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the day the undermanned Mexican army defeated the French army on May 5, 1862. At the time, France had perhaps the strongest military in the world, and wanted controlling interest in Mexico, as the Mexican government refused to pay off debts due to the nation's financial hardships following the three wars that began with the Mexican-American War.

The defeat of the French army was an incredible military achievement. France had a well-armed 8,000-man army, while the Mexican army was said to be half the size and poorly equipped.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is a day to appreciate Mexico, and the traditions of the country with a population of 113 million people. According to Pew Research Center, the 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States.

As for Mexico's Independence Day, September 16th marks the day of celebration, which resulted from the revolt of Mexico against Spain's colonial government.