Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). It is celebrated in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla)
A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.
“Public memory of the Cinco de Mayo was socially, and deliberately, constructed during the American Civil War by Latinos responding to events and changes around them,” says historian David E. Hayes-Bautista. “The Cinco de Mayo is not, in its origins, a Mexican holiday at all but rather an American one, created by Latinos in California in the middle of the 19th century.”