Cinco De Mayo is celebrated in Mexico each May 5th to honor the defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. A civil war was taking place at the time, fought between Mexican and French forces on one side and other Mexican forces loosely supported by the United States on the other. Although French forces were defeated at Puebla, they held overwhelming military superiority across the country and continued to control Mexico until 1866, when Napolean III withdrew all French troops from the country.
This date was initially celebrated primarily with local and regional events in Mexico and the United States. In the 1980’s, producers of beer, wine, and tequila realized they could boost sales by promoting the holiday. They launched effective ad campaigns and sales skyrocketed.
Sometimes Cinco De Mayo is confused with Mexican Independence Day. Independence Day, celebrated annually on September 16th, marks the beginning of the war that led to independence from Spain fifty years before the Battle Of Puebla. Of the two holidays, Mexican Independence Day is considered the most important and widely celebrated in Mexico, while Cinco De Mayo is the most popular Mexican holiday celebrated in the United States.