Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a national holiday in Mexico, that has actually become a bigger holiday in the US. It celebrates the Battle of Puebla, 1862, in which Mexican forces defeated French invaders against overwhelming odds. What began with a demand by the government of France for payment on bonds turned into a war of conquest. The French commander was sure of victory, but 2,000 troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza carried the day instead. The French ultimately won the war, installing Maximilian of Austria as ruler of Mexico, but the victory at Puebla gave the Mexicans the confidence to depose him and declare independence, five years later. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with fiestas, parades, battle reenactments, and often a combate de flores, a battle of flowers. The site of General Zaragoza’s birthplace, in Goliad, Texas, was designated a state park in 1960. There are large Cinco de Mayo celebrations; with parades, music, and food in Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, St. Paul, MN and other cities across the country.

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