Culture Holidays 5 Facts About Cinco De Mayo By Jenn Savedge Writer University of Strathclyde Ithaca College Jenn Savedge is an environmental author and lecturer. She’s a former national park ranger who has written three books on eco-friendly living our editorial process Jenn Savedge Updated May 04, 2020 Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the U.S., like this one in San Diego, are often bigger than the ones in Mexico. (Photo: Kobby Dagan/Shutterstock.com) Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community What's the big deal about Cinco de Mayo, literally translated as the fifth of May? Here's what you need to know : Cinco de Mayo Is Not Mexico's Independence Day Most Americans confuse this holiday with Mexico's Independence Day, but that date is Sept. 16. Cinco De Mayo Is a Celebration of the Battle of Puebla In the Battle of Puebla, about 2,000 Mexican soldiers fought against about 6,000 French soldiers. (Photo: Unknown author [public domain]/Wikimedia Commons) The holiday commemorates the Mexican Army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). The battle was fought in the town of Puebla de Los Angeles. The French army had three times the amount of troops as the Mexican army, but the Mexican soldiers stood their ground. After more than 500 French soldiers were killed, the army retreated. Cinco de Mayo Is Not Really a Big Deal in Mexico Why make such a big deal over one victory? The win at Puebla was a huge deal for Mexico because the Mexican Army went into the battle as underdogs. They had no training and 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. Cinco Mayo Is Not Really a Big Deal in Mexico With all of the fuss around May 5 here in the U.S., you would think it was the biggest holiday in Mexico — but that's not the case. That honor goes to Mexican Independence Day. Still, Mexicans do celebrate the day with family gatherings, fireworks, dancing, and lots of yummy food. Cinco de Mayo Is a Holiday for Everyone to Celebrate Many towns around the U.S. have festivals, fiestas, dances, fireworks, food, and music in honor of the holiday. It's a great time to teach your kids about the culture, people, and history of Mexico — or even learn a little yourself.