Well, it’s here! If you live in the States, then you might know what all the fuss is about, although many confuse this holiday with Mexico’s Independence Day. Here’s some interesting info:
1. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Battle of Puebla. The holiday commemorates the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).
2. The win at Puebla was a huge deal for Mexico because the Mexican Army went into the battle as underdogs. They had no training, no equipment and were vastly outnumbered against the well-armed, well-disciplined and well-funded French, who up until that point had defeated them at every turn. Yet, they prevailed.
3. Cinco de Mayo isn’t really a big deal in Mexico. With all of the fuss around May 5th here in the U.S., you would think it was the biggest holiday in Mexico – nope. That honor goes to Mexican Independence Day. Still, Mexicans do celebrate the day with family get-togethers, fireworks, dancing and lots of food.
4. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday for everyone to celebrate (except if you happen to be French)! Many towns around the U.S. have festivals, fiestas, dances, food and music in honor of the holiday.
Now, here’s what happened AFTER Cinco de Mayo:
After this initial defeat at the Battle of Puebla, the French proceeded to win a string of victories, with General Elie Frédéric Forey’s troops finally capturing the city on May 17, 1863. On May 31., Mexican president, Juárez and the government fled to El Paso del Norte. The French marched unopposed into Mexico City seven days later.
Over the next year and a half, French troops continued to overtake the Mexicans, while a new imperial government was established under Maximilian of Habsburg. In 1865, with the American Civil War ended and the US able to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, the tide began to turn. The US supplied Juárez’s men with weapons and supplies, placed an army along the Rio Grande, and put up a naval blockade to prevent French reinforcements from arriving. Unwilling to fight the US, Napoleon III began to withdraw French troops in 1866. Abandoned by the French, Maximilian and his forces were driven back by Juárez’s troops. Maximilian was captured on May 15, 1867 and the following month, he was executed, restoring Juárez and his government to full power.