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Today is May 5. Do you know why we celebrate it? It is a date to celebrate the pride of being Mexican that has spread throughout all the cities of the United States. Do you know its origin and the reason why we celebrate it?

This article was translated from our Spanish edition.


Today is May 5 and 160 years have passed since the Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza , defeated the French army in the Battle of Puebla .

After the War of Reform , the country, governed at that time by Benito Juárez, suffered a profound crisis and defaulted on the debt it owed to Spain, France and England. Tension increased and the three countries sent troops into Mexican territory seeking to exert pressure on the Juárez government. To avoid an outbreak of war, the Soledad Treaties were signed on February 19, 1862, in which the debt was renegotiated. Spain and England withdrew their troops, but France decided to invade Mexico on April 27 of that same year, advancing towards the city of Puebla de los Ángeles, which is located 155 kilometers southwest of Mexico City.

Despite the marked differences between the two armies, the Mexican troops managed to contain the attacks at the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe and ended up defeating the French army. In 1863 there was a second French intervention and when Juárez asked all parties to join the cause, Miguel Negrete , his opponent, pronounced his famous phrase: "I have a country before a party" .

And what did the United States have to do with all this?

At the same time, in the United States, the Civil War was being fought as a result of a controversy over slavery between the northern states and the southern states. According to historians, the similarity between the struggles motivated by ideals of freedom, democracy and anti-racism made Mexicans working in California and Texas (once territories of Mexico) celebrate the triumph of Ignacio Zaragoza's army every year on that date.

Over time, the celebration became popular until it became what it is today: a day to celebrate Mexicanness with food, parades, parties, drinks and music. In some places it is also known as Mexican Pride Day and it is an opportunity to celebrate it in your business, even if you are not Mexican.

Is Cinco de Mayo the same as Independence?

It is common to hear in the United States that on May 5 the independence of Mexico is commemorated, but that is not true. They are two different wars. The War of Independence (to stop being a Spanish colony) began on September 16, 1810 and ended on September 27, 1821.
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