A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican Independence Day but what does the holiday actually celebrate. It actually celebrates a single battle, the Battle of Puebla, during the Franco-Mexican War on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico but has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is really only celebrated in Puebla.
The Battle of Puebla was not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, but the success on May 5th represented a symbolic victory for the Mexican government and helped to bolster the resistance movement. In 1867, the United States (after finally recovering from the Civil War) helped its neighbor and France finally withdrew.
Today in the US, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos.
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