Often mistaken in the United States for Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is actually a Mexican celebration commemorating their national Army’s victory over France during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexico’s independence was won over Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated ceremonially and through military parades, while its neighbors to the north celebrate the victory with cerveza, lots of cerveza.
The holiday has actually had its roots in the United States since shortly after Mexico’s victory. Historically, it is said that the celebration was associated with the war victory when Mexican gold miners heard the news and began firing shots in the air and sang patriotic songs in honor of their country. It wasn’t until the 1950s and ’60s when the annual fiesta began to spread east to other parts of the United States; and not until the 1980s when the celebration was commercialized by beer companies and marketers.
Its popularity has grown into a pop culture celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Many celebrants take to the local restaurants and pubs to partake in South of the border foods, appetizers, desserts and of course Corona, Dos Equis XX or a fruity margarita.
Today, the Battle of Puebla is not observed as a national holiday in Mexico, but some Mexican states such as Puebla and Veracruz do observe the day as an official holiday.