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How is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Mexico?

Cinco de Mayo is a very important date in Mexico because it remembers a great battle that occurred in 1862 in the city of Puebla

What is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo? What happened on this date that is one of the main civic anniversaries in Mexico?

May 5 is a very important date in Mexico because it remembers a great battle that occurred in 1862 in the city of Puebla.

On May 5 of that year, Mexican troops, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, faced the French in a battle in which the Mexicans were outnumbered and outgunned, but thanks to their bravery and cunning they managed to defeat the French. French.

This victory did not mean the end of the war, since the French returned with greater forces, but the battle of Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance and pride.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico as a national holiday and is also celebrated in some places in the United States, where there is a large Mexican community. On this date, parades, dances, meals and other events are held to remember the importance of this battle in the history of Mexico.

What happened on May 5, 1862?

On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated a much larger French force at the Battle of Puebla.

Despite being outnumbered and less equipped, the Mexican troops managed to defeat one of the most powerful military forces of that time, which is celebrated as a symbol of resilience and national pride.

This victory was a major turning point in the Second French Intervention in Mexico, and it gave the Mexican people hope that they could eventually defeat the French invaders.

Why Did France Invade Mexico?

During the administration led by Antonio López de Santa Ana, which lasted until 1855, the Republic of Mexico was bankrupt and declared a suspension of payments on its foreign debt.

President Benito Juárez, observing Mexico’s dire economic situation, decided to suspend debt payments to Spain, England, and France, as these accounted for 70 percent of the country’s economic resources.

Following this announcement, the creditor nations formed an alliance called the London Convention to pressure Mexico into settling its debts. The three countries united and mobilized their troops to the Mexican Republic.

Both England and Spain agreed to negotiate and reached an understanding with Foreign Minister Manuel Doblado, prompting them to reembark their troops and return to their countries. However, France demanded immediate payment of the debt. Following the orders of Napoleon III, Charles Ferdinand Latrille, Count of Lorencez, continued with plans to establish a monarchy in Mexico.

This decision led to the breakup of the tripartite alliance and the violation of the ‘Preliminary Treaties of La Soledad,’ sparking an armed conflict between Mexico and France. The first shots were fired at El Fortín in Veracruz on April 19, 1862.

The Beginning of the Battle of Puebla

At 9 a.m. on that May 5, with the firing of a Mexican cannon, one of the most glorious days in our national history began.

The French command concentrated its effort on the Fort of Guadalupe, launching an initial attack on this point. Despite the superior weaponry of General Charles Ferdinand Latrille, Count of Lorencez’s forces, they were stopped by the national troops.

The French attack on the Fort of Guadalupe was repeated twice more.

However, the Mexican soldiers managed to repel them on both occasions, thereby forcing the French retreat.

How Long Did the Battle of Puebla Last?

On the afternoon of that same May 5, the French Expeditionary Army began to be repelled by the Mexican troops and retreated towards Amozoc. Against all expectations, the Mexican army defeated one of the most powerful troops of the 19th century, the French. This unexpected victory filled the Mexican people with glory and honor.

Where Was It Won?

The courage, bravery, and patriotism shown by the men commanded by General Ignacio Zaragoza made this military event a symbol of the defense of sovereignty and independence of our nation. In that glorious day, the arms of the Supreme Government were covered in glory.

The best army in the world, the French, was defeated by the first sons of Mexico, at the foothills of the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe, in the city of Puebla.

What Happened After?

The French would return the following year, 1863, and a second battle was fought in Puebla where 35,000 French faced 29,000 Mexicans (a defense that lasted 62 days) and they would advance to Mexico City, allowing the establishment of the Second Mexican Empire.

Finally, after losing 11,000 men due to persistent guerrilla activity, the French unconditionally withdrew from the country in 1867 by the decree of Emperor Napoleon III, facing the threat of Prussia in Europe and the American threat to invade if they did not withdraw from Mexico.

Is Cinco de Mayo Mexico’s Independence Day?

No, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. It commemorates the victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

When is Mexican Independence Day?

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th. It marks the anniversary of Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule, beginning with the famous “Grito de Dolores” by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810.

What is the significance of Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo holds significant historical importance as it represents a major victory where the Mexican forces prevailed against unlikely odds. The day is seen as a symbol of Mexican resistance against foreign domination and a celebration of national pride and heritage.

Where do the largest 5 de Mayo celebrations take place?

While Cinco de Mayo is celebrated across Mexico, the largest and most significant events take place in Puebla, where the original battle occurred. In the United States, cities with large Mexican-American populations, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, also host major celebrations.

Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a civic-military parade in the city of Puebla. There is also a recreation of the Battle of Puebla in Peñon de los Baños, in Mexico City.

Who was involved in Cinco de Mayo?

The Battle of Puebla was fought between the Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, and the French army, led by General Charles Lorencez. The Mexican army was outnumbered and outgunned, but they were able to defeat the French forces thanks to their superior strategy and determination.

What is the Difference Between Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day?

Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day are two significant but distinct holidays celebrated in Mexico. Here are the key differences:

Reason for Celebration:

  • Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
  • Mexican Independence Day marks the beginning of Mexico’s struggle for independence from Spanish rule, which started with the “Grito de Dolores” on September 16, 1810.

Historical Context:

  • Cinco de Mayo occurred during the French intervention in Mexico when France sought to establish a monarchy under their control. The victory at Puebla became a symbol of national resistance and pride.
  • Mexican Independence Day celebrates the launch of the independence movement by Father Miguel Hidalgo, which led to a decade-long war that eventually freed Mexico from Spanish colonial governance.

Scale of Celebrations:

  • Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in Puebla where the battle took place, and it’s observed with military parades and reenactments. It has also become a significant celebration in the United States among Mexican-American communities.
  • Mexican Independence Day is a major national holiday across Mexico, marked by nationwide festivities including fireworks, fiestas, food, and the iconic “Grito” reenactment by the President in Mexico City.

Cultural Impact:

  • Cinco de Mayo has gained international fame, particularly in the U.S., where it serves as a day to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.
  • Mexican Independence Day remains a deeply patriotic holiday, reflecting the pride of Mexico’s history and its achievement of sovereignty.


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