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Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The day, which falls on Thursday, May 5 in 2022, is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, a popular misconception. Instead, it commemorates a single battle (Battle of Puebla).
Independence Day in Mexico (Día de la Independencia) is commemorated on September 16, the anniversary of the revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s famous “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores,” referring to the city of Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico), a call to arms that amounted to a declaration of war against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.
Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration.
Traditions include military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.
For many Mexicans, however, May 5 is a day like any other: It is not a federal holiday, so offices, banks and stores remain open.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations.
Chicano activists raised awareness of the holiday in the 1960s, in part because they identified with the victory of Indigenous Mexicans (such as Juárez) over European invaders during the Battle of Puebla.
Today, the occasion is marked with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.
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