Many people think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Fourth of July – Independence Day. It’s not.
It’s the day in 1861 that Mexico, led by Gen. Zaragoza Seguin, defeated the French army in the Mexican city of Puebla. They were fighting because Mexican President Benito Juarez had decided to stop payments on some loans Mexico had taken from other countries.
The victory was so unlikely against a larger and more heavily armed French Army that it became a point of pride with Mexico.
But the French didn’t go away. They installed Maximilian I as emperor of Mexico in 1864.
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That may be why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated much more widely in the United States – where it is more of an excuse to have a margarita than anything else – than in Mexico.