Cinco de Mayo, or 5th May, is commonly mistaken worldwide as Mexican Independence Day. This isn’t the case. Mexico has already declared its independence 50 years before a certain celebrated battle in the east-central city of Puebla.

Today, Puebla is popular with tourists for its architecture, ceramics and cuisine.

But, on Cinco de Mayo in 1862, a ragtag bunch of 2,000 Mexicans, largely inexperienced in war and unprepared for armed combat, faced 6,000 well-organised French troops. The odds were slim for the outnumbered and unsophisticated Mexicans.

What caused the battle in Puebla on Cinco de Mayo, 1862?

 Mexico was so heavily in debt when President Juárez came in to power that he decided to cut his losses and suspend all foreign repayments for two years.

The Americans were too embroiled in their own civil war to react too adversely. But a swift and brutish backlash came from the English, French and Spanish.

Troops from each of these European superpowers started descending on Mexico from 1861. The English and Spanish pulled out quickly. But the French pressed inland towards Mexico City, before meeting legendary resistance at Puebla on Cinco de Mayo.

What was the upshot? 

It’s estimated the French suffered an estimated 500 casualties compared to 100 Mexican casualties.

And, whilst the Mexicans won the battle, the French won the war ultimately.

But Cinco de Mayo has become emblematic of Mexico’s strength of character and ability to clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.

What happens on Cinco de Mayo?

Nik Wheeler of the History Channel concludes, “Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston,” (where there are sizeable US-based Mexican communities).


At La Academia, we can help with the many languages of Mexico. But the Spanish language is what we’re most famous for. “Spanish is the de facto national language spoken by the vast majority of the population, making Mexico the world’s most populous Hispanophone country”, according to Wikipedia. So, we’re the perfect match if you’re thinking about business or pleasure in Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo, Nik Wheeler, History
Languages of Mexico, Wikipedia