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Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The day, which falls on Thursday, May 5 in 2022, is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

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Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, a popular misconception. Instead, it commemorates a single battle. In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and thành viên of the Indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments khổng lồ European governments.

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In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain & Spain negotiated with Mexico & withdrew their forces.

France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to lớn use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops và driving President Juárez & his government into retreat.


The Battle of Puebla

Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out khổng lồ attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either Indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla.


The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town & prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the thành phố of Puebla and led an assault.

READ MORE: The Surprising Connection Between Cinco de Mayo và the Civil War


How Long Did the Battle of Puebla Last?

The battle lasted from daybreak to lớn early evening, và when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.


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Benito Juárez was elected president in1861.At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.

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In 1864, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was sent by the French lớn be emperor of Mexico.Ruled by Napoleon III, France decided khổng lồ use the opportunity khổng lồ carve an empire out of Mexican territory và sent 6,000troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out lớn attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico.

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Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them lớn Puebla. These individuals dress as Zacapoaxtlaz, farmers who assisted the Mexican army in the battle against the French,in a Cinco de Mayo parade.

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Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, the success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement.Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla.

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Maximilian was captured and executed by Juarez’s troops in 1867.

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Cinco de Mayo