Today is the 5th of May or CINCO DE MAYO. Contrary to popular belief in the United States, Cinco de Mayo IS NOT Mexican independence day.
CINCO DE MAYO celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. While the United States was busy fighting the Civil War and unable to intervene, France invaded Mexico after the Mexican government defaulted on payments of loans which France had made. French forces landed at Vera Cruz on the Mexican Gulf Coast and attempted to march inland to attack Mexico City. The French Emperor, Napoleon III, sought to install his relative, the Archduke Maximillian of Austria, as Emperor of Mexico, thus effectively making Mexico a colony of France.
Although outnumbered almost two to one, the Mexicans, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, soundly defeated a larger and better equipped French army. The Mexican victory was of limited strategic importance, however, as a year later the French captured Mexico City and installed Maximillian as Emperor. In 1867, Maximillian was overthrown and the French were driven out of Mexico by forces led by President Benito Juarez. Maximillian was later executed.
CINCO DE MAYO is primarily a holiday among Mexican and Chicano communities in the United States. The celebration has taken on a significance far beyond celebrating a military victory in an obscure battle. Like ST. PATRICK'S DAY among those of Irish descent, CINCO DE MAYO is a day for Americans of Mexican ancestory to celebrate their heritage.