Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo celebrations © S Pakhrin
On every Fifth of May (Cinco de Mayo) in the state of Puebla, the famous Battle of Puebla is commemorated with traditional music, dancing and general festivities. The battle saw a far outnumbered Mexican army defeat a large and better equipped French army on 5 May 1862. The French invading force, then considered the strongest army in the world, encountered fierce resistance from Mexican defenders at the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe, with the 4,500 Mexican troops unexpectedly defeating the 8,000-strong French force.
Ironically, the day is probably more celebrated in the United States than it is in Mexico, in a similar fashion to the celebrations of St. Patrick's Day. Even the name Cinco de Mayo is used more by the US, as the Mexicans often call the festival El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla. For the US, the battle came to symbolise the fight for freedom and democracy and was an inspiration during the American Civil War; today, in the US, Cinco de Mayo is a general celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, when Mexican food, music and folk traditions are embraced. In Mexico the battle is still commemorated enthusiastically, mainly with street fiestas and parades, but the epicentre of the festivities is in Puebla.
Venue: Puebla, east of Mexico City
Date: 5 May annually