5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cinco de Mayo

puebla iglesias volcano
Skyline of the City of Puebla, with Popocatépetl volcano in the background.

Today, many Latinos in the U.S. celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is often said that the holiday is Mexico’s equivalent of Independence Day, but this is a misconception. Here are five things you need to know about Cinco de Mayo:

1. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. That date is Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates of the Battle of Puebla, and commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over France in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. The city of Puebla, located in the state of Puebla in east-central Mexico, is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country.

2. Not all Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo. In fact, while it is a national holiday, it generally is not considered a big deal in Mexico. It is mostly celebrated in Puebla. Many Mexicans living in the U.S. generally don’t acknowledge the holiday unless they are from that area.

3. Cinco de Mayo is more widely celebrated in parts of the U.S. than in Mexico. The holiday first gained traction in the U.S. during the 1960s as a way for Latino activists to honor their history and culture. Today, the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebrations are held in Los Angeles and San Diego.

4. America’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo is rooted in the Civil War. Long Island Wins’ Patrick Young writes about this connection in more detail.

5. Everyone can celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Today, Americans of all ethnic backgrounds celebrate this holiday. In fact, it is a great opportunity for people and families to learn more about Mexican culture and traditions.