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Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo "The Fifth of May" in English is primarily a regional, and not a federal, holiday in Mexico; the date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. A common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day; Mexico's Independence Day is September 16 (dieciseis de septiembre in Spanish). It commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. However, the Mexican victory at Puebla only delayed the French invasion of Mexico City, and a year later, the French occupied Mexico. The French occupying forces placed Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico on the throne of Mexico; Maximillian and the French were eventually defeated and executed in 1867, five years after the Battle of Puebla.
Cinco de Mayo in Mexico
Cinco de Mayo is viewed as a relatively minor holiday in most of Mexico, and it is observed, if at all, in varying degrees. The holiday is celebrated vigorously in the city of Puebla, Puebla, where the battle was fought, and in the state of Puebla; celebration is more limited or non-existent in the rest of the country. For the most part the celebrations combine food, drink, music and dancing.
Cinco de Mayo in United States
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, and music. The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry, respectively. As a result, the holiday is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origins, especially in cities and states where there is a large population of Mexican ancestry. Although it is not an official holiday, many cities with large populations of Mexican ancestry honor the day as a symbolic representation of Mexican pride and as a representation of a culture that blends both Mexican and American roots. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgin de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, such as Cesar Chavez.