History of Cinco de Mayo

Anna Sturgeon, Staff writer

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for ‘the Fifth of May,’ which is the exact day this holiday lands. It is also known as the Battle of Puebla day, due to it celebrating Mexico’s victory during the battle.

The holiday began in 1861 when Mexico was in financial ruin due to years of internal strife, which caused Mexico to default on debt payments to European governments. In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz. Britain and Spain negotiated and withdrew their powers, but France saw an opportunity to form an empire. With 6,000 troops, France took over Puebla de Los Angeles. While from his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a force of 2,000 loyal men. The Mexican troops were vastly outnumbered and poorly equipped, yet the Mexican troops won by some miracle. The battle began at daybreak and ended in the early evening. With about 500 soldiers lost, the French army retreated.

To this day, May 5 is a symbolic victory for the Mexican government. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated chiefly in Puebla, where traditions include military parades, parties, Mexican folk dancing, and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano.