Cinco de Mayo, meaning fifth of May in Spanish, is celebrated in most of the parts of United States and Mexico on 5 May every year to mark the victory of the Mexican army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on 5 May, 1862.
Special events are held to highlight Mexican culture, music, folk dance, food and history. As this Saturday will mark 150 years of the historic battle, here are five quick facts on Cinco de Mayo history:
1. Cinco de Mayo is more famous in the US than in Mexico
Despite being a regional festival of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more widely in the United States than in Mexico. While 5 May is a declared holiday in Washington, it is not a federal holiday in Mexico. The festival is commemorated in those US cities which have large Hispanic populations. US President Barack Obama, who hosted a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House on Thursday, said that the "celebration is all about pride in the heritage and contributions of Hispanics in all aspects of American life."
2. Mexican troops defeated French army twice its size
After 150 years of the Battle of Puebla, the triumph is still celebrated as Cinco de Mayo for the valour Mexican soldiers showed in the war. Historical accounts have it that the number of Mexican troops was almost half of the French but the soldiers succeeded in expelling the French invaders from their land on 5 May. According to a White House statement, while writing a brief note to the then war minister of Mexico, the sergeant General Zaragoza noted that the national army never turned their back.
3. Cinco de Mayo marks defeat of world-renowned European army
At the time of the Battle of Puebla, the French army was considered the best in the world after having made victories in Southeast Asia and Northern Africa. According to History Channel, the force was well-equipped with long-range rifles. Yet, on 5 May, 1862, ane 8,000-strong force was put to shame as a smaller army half its size crushed them. In fact, the French are considered to have been defeated by the Russians as well in 1854.
4. French army occupied Mexico City after Cinco de Mayo
Baffled by the shameful defeat at the Battle of Puebla, the French army reportedly conquered Mexico City following the order of sending 30,000 troops to Mexico by Emperor Napoleon III. However, the win was shortlived as the US overcame the Civil War in 1867 to assist Mexico in turning the invaders back.
5. Cinco de Mayo was the last time any army from another continent invaded the Americas
Though the Americas have been attacked by armies of other continents during World War II, no military forces have invaded the Americas since Cinco de Mayo. It is arguably the only event to celebrate a battle after which, no country conquered the region.