The History of Cinco de Mayo

Stratified Island, near La Paz, Baja California Sur, MexicoMany people celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. as a time for being with friends and having fun without understanding the real significance behind the history of this Mexican holiday.

True or False: Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s independence.

False, the day actually commemorated a battle on the fifth of May that was won by Mexico.

Why was Mexico attacked by foreign troops?
Mexican President Benito Juarez defaulted on his payments to European nations after war had depleted the country’s ability to pay.

How many wars was Mexico inundated with in the 19th Century that led to the countries depleted funds?

They endured 3 wars. In 1821 they fought for their independence from Spain, 1846-1848 they fought against America and in 1857 they began their own civil war.

Who did Mexico fight on Cinco de Mayo ?

When Mexico decided to default on its loans, France, Britain and Spain sent troops to demand repayment. But Napoleon III had other plans to take the country and install a French monarch. Britain and Spain would not get involved with this. 6,000 French troops went up against 2,000 Mexicans in the town of Puebla on the fifth of May 1862.  Mexico was victorious, but Napoleon III later returned with more forces and installed Arch Duke Maximillian to rule.

So how is Cinco de Mayo connected with the war for independence from France?

“Cinco de Mayo” became the rallying cry for the fight against the French occupation. They celebrated each year with song, dance and food to remain focused on regaining the country and retaining their heritage.

When did Mexico finally win its independence?

In 1867 Arch Duke Maximillian was overthrown.

Arch Duke Maximillian was executed in 1867. What remains in Mexico City to this day that commemorates this moment?

The bullet-riddled shirt that the ruler fell in is on display for all to see.

Check out for more information on this holiday that celebrates the pride of Mexico.

Plus, get some ideas for great Mexican recipes and learn 24 Mexican culinary words you need to know.

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