Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, an ill-equipped army of Mexican troops fought valiantly against the opposing French forces, who were three times greater in number and better armed.
Although the French lost the battle, they won the war and eventually gained control of Mexico City. Four years later, the French withdrew their troops as a result of protests from Mexican citizens and pressure from the United States. By 1867, the Mexican government regained ruling power over its own country. Today, the commemoration of this holiday is a proud symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism.
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla. In the United States, it's celebrated on a much larger scale, especially in those cities with a significant Mexican population.