We celebrate because it is the Mexican Independence day right? Wrong. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day, that is on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo, meaning May 5th in Spanish, commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo in Mexico is celebrated mostly in the Puebla state where traditions include military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.
Contrary to popular belief though, Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, but has evolved into a larger celebration in the United States. Many cities in the U.S. with a large Mexican-American population celebrate their culture and heritage with traditions including parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals. The holiday gained traction in the U.S. in the 1960s when Chicano activists raised awareness in part because they identified with the victory of indigenous Mexicans over Europeans in the Battle of Puebla.