Cinco de Mayo is a traditional Mexican holiday with its roots being in the French occupation of Mexico, as it celebrates a single war victory over the French in 1862. The words Cinco de Mayo translate into "the 5th of May"; this was the day of the fateful win. The war was not over with this particular battle, but it was decided that this victory over the French would be celebrated. It is often misconceived as being Mexico's day of independence, which is actually celebrated on the 16th of September.
Mexico's battle with the French took place in Mexico's then capital city of Puebla. This "Battle of Puebla" has become a celebration of Mexican unity and patriotism. The Cinco De Mayo celebration is generally most enthusiaatic in the city of Puebla and surrounding areas. It is also widely celebrated in the United States, where there are high concentrations of Mexican-Americans.
In the city of Puebla the battlefield has been preserved in the form of a park. There is a statue of General Zaragoza in the park. He is the General who led the Mexicans to victory during this battle. One of the forts in the park is retained as a museum commemorating the event, and there is a battlefield set up with toy soldiers representing the events.
During celebrations of the 5th of May, the cities of Mexico City and Puebla burst with life, including huge parades that take months of preparation and planning that fill the streets with joyous sound and vivacious color! People gather around from early morning into the late evening to celebrate the joy and pride of a free Mexico. There is tons of food, drinks and dancing, plenty to entertain for days on end. Recreations of the event are often held in the city squares for curious onlookers and celebrators, and many times real black powder weapons are used, helping to create a very realistic re-creation.
Although this holiday was traditionally a celebration of victory, it has become a cultural celebration filled with Mexican dress, foods and beverages as well as traditional Mexican-style music. Colorful posters, candy filled piñatas and beautifully made clothing have become a sign of the celebration, especially for those located within the United States.