A date of great importance for Mexican and Mexican-American communities, Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. On that day during the French occupation of Mexico, General Zaragoza and his troops were victorious over the greatest military power in the world at that time. Mexicans who had previously shown little interest in their country’s future felt pride, nationalism, and determination to defend Mexico’s sovereignty. The phrase “¡Viva el Cinco de Mayo!” inspired increasing numbers of Mexicans to aid their country during the war that lasted from 1863 to 1867.
In the United States, people of Mexican descent celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, folklorico dancing, and other types of festive activities. The celebration gives Mexican Americans an opportunity to celebrate their cultural pride and their hopes for the well being, dignity, and advancement of Mexico and Mexican people everywhere.