Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not actually Mexico's
independence day, which falls on September 16. Instead, Cinco de Mayo
commemorates a historical event known as the Battle of Puebla, fought
between Mexico and France on May 5, 1862.
"Mexico owed France,
along with Spain and England, a lot of money. The three countries sent
troops to Mexico to demand payment," according to ABC News
. "Spain and England reached an agreement and left, but the French set out to attack Mexican forces in Puebla."
Mexico won the battle, the country was still conquered by the French
less than a year later. Still, the battle energized residents of Mexico
with a renewed sense of national pride.
Cinco de Mayo was declared a
national holiday but remains a relatively minor one in Mexico. The
holiday, though, became immensely more popular in the U.S., due in part
to Mexican immigration, according to the U.S. News & World Report
"Over time the date came to be a showcase of Mexican ethnic identity
rather than a celebration of the battle against the invading French