Cinco de Mayo, which translates to “Fifth of May” in Spanish, is a holiday that is celebrated in the United States and Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

History of Cinco de Mayo

The Battle of Puebla took place during the Franco-Mexican War, a conflict between Mexico and France that began in 1861. At the time, Mexico was struggling with political instability and economic hardship, and the French saw an opportunity to establish a colonial empire in the country.

The French army, led by General Charles de Lorencez, was sent to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a city located in east-central Mexico. The Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, was outnumbered and outgunned, but they managed to repel the French army’s advance and secure a victory.

The battle was a significant morale boost for the Mexican army and helped to rally support for the country’s resistance against the French. However, the war would continue for several more years, and the French would eventually capture Mexico City and establish a colonial government.

Celebration of Cinco de Mayo in Mexico and the US

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, where the Battle of Puebla took place. The holiday is not a national holiday in Mexico and is not widely celebrated outside of the state. Instead, it is mostly recognized as a day of remembrance and pride for the Mexican people.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a widely celebrated holiday, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. The holiday has become an opportunity for people to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage with parades, festivals, and parties.

Marketing Behind Cinco de Mayo

The commercialization of Cinco de Mayo in the United States can be traced back to the 1980s, when beer companies began targeting the holiday as a marketing opportunity. Today, many companies use Cinco de Mayo as a way to promote their products, particularly alcohol brands.

Critics argue that the commercialization of the holiday has led to a superficial and inaccurate understanding of Mexican culture and history. They argue that the holiday has been reduced to a party and an excuse to drink, rather than an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the Battle of Puebla and the struggle for Mexican independence.


Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that has both historical and cultural significance. While the holiday is primarily celebrated in Mexico, it has become a popular holiday in the United States, where it is often used as a marketing opportunity. While the commercialization of the holiday has drawn criticism, the holiday remains an important celebration of Mexican culture and heritage for many people.

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