May 5, 2012 -Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a regional holiday in Mexico, primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican militia’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignancio Zaragoaza. Many from outside of Mexico often confuse this day with Independence Day. The Battle was very important for at least two reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, 4000 Mexican militiamen defeated a much better-equipped French army of 8,000 soldiers who had not been defeated in 50 years. Secondly, although countries in the Americas have been attacked since May 5th 1862, (Falkland Islands, Pearl Harbour, etc), no country in the Americas has been invaded by an army from another continent since then, except for the brief occupation of two of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands by the Japanese Army during WW II.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has become increasingly popular along the U.S.-Mexico border and in parts of the U.S. that have a high population of people with a Mexican heritage. In these areas the holiday is a celebration of Mexican culture, of food, music, beverage and customs unique to Mexico. Commercial interests in the United States and Mexico have also had a hand in promoting the holiday, with products and services focused on Mexican food, beverages and festivities, with music playing a more visible role as well. Several cities throughout the U.S. now hold parades and concerts during the week leading up to May 5th so that Cinco de Mayo has become a bigger holiday north of the border than it is to the south, and being adopted into the holiday calendar of more and more people every year. Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!