Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the anniversary of an early victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Pubela on May 5, 1862. It is not the anniversary of the defeat and expulsion of the French forces by the Mexicans, which occurred in 1867. It is also not, as is often assumed, the day of Mexico’s celebrations of independence, which are actually held on September 16. It is believed that the origins of Cinco de Mayo celebrations lie in the responses of Mexicans living in California in the 1860s to French rule in Mexico at that time.
Cinco de Mayo is seen as a day to celebrate the culture, achievements and experiences of people with a Mexican background, who live in the United States. There is a large commercial element to the day, with businesses promoting Mexican services and goods, particularly food, drinks and music. Other aspects of the day center around traditional symbols of Mexican life, such as the Virgin de Guadalupe, and Mexican-Americans who have achieved fame, fortune and influence in the United States.
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