Many people celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States without knowing much about what they are celebrating. Cinco De Mayo is more than eating Mexican Foods such as tacos, drinking margaritas, dancing and having fun. It is good to celebrate the holiday, but it is even better to know why the day is celebrated.

Not Mexico's Independence Day

Many believe Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico's Independence Day. However, that is incorrect. Rather than being a day of independence, it is the celebration of the day the Mexican army was victorious over France on May 5, 1862 at the Battle of Puebla.

Winning that battle was quite significant because the Mexicans were outnumbered and not prepared to fight the French, according to historical documents. Only 100 Mexicans were killed during the battle, but 500 French soldiers lost their lives.

Even though it was a great victory for the Mexicans that year, they lost the battle the following year to the French who took control of the area for the next five years. Independence Day in Mexico is celebrated on September 16 and not on May 5.

Not popular in Mexico

One would think Cinco de Mayo would be more popular in Mexico, but that's not the case. Many Mexicans treat it as just another day without celebrating at all. The day is celebrated more in the United States and in other places than in Mexico.

Of course, it stands to reason that it is celebrated in Puebla where Mexico won the battle in 1862.

In Puebla, Mexicans gather and perform a reenactment of their victory. There is a parade and lots of singing, dancing, and having lots of Mexican food and drinks. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped to add to the popularity of the holiday because in 1933 he released the Good Neighbor Policy.

As of a couple of years ago, there were 56.6 million people of Mexican descent in the United States. That is about 17.6 percent of the country's total population.

Celebrations in the US

Cinco de Mayo, which means "Fifth of May," is widely celebrated in the United States in honor of Mexican culture and to help them pay tribute for a major victory over the French in 1862.

To celebrate the holiday in the United States, people dress up in Mexican attire, have parties and eat lots of Mexican foods and dance to Mexican music. In some places there are parades with loud music and songs. There are festivals in some cities. Some Mexican restaurants offer specials and discounts to get families to dine with them on May 5.

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, enjoy yourself and remember the reason you are celebrating.