Cinco de Mayo: A Celebration of Mexican Heritage

Page 1 of 10 NEXT PAGE

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, the editors of the World Book Encyclopedia have compiled an online feature celebrating Mexican heritage. Articles in the feature are from World Book and chronicle the history of Mexico and the important role Mexican Americans and other Hispanic Americans have played in shaping the United States.


Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated on May 5 by Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Its name is Spanish for Fifth of May.


Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of a Mexican army over a French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, won the battle even though the French force was better armed and three times as large. The battle occurred after Emperor Napoleon III of France sent troops to Mexico to conquer the country. Despite the Mexican victory at Puebla, the French later gained control of Mexico City and established a French-supported government there. In 1866 and 1867, however, France withdrew its troops from Mexico because of resistance by many Mexicans and pressure from the United States. The French-backed government soon fell.


Cinco de Mayo is celebrated differently in different areas. Some Mexican towns hold small celebrations, including parades or town meetings and speeches. In the United States, celebrations often include parades, folk dancing, speeches, carnival rides, and Mexican music.


Early Civilizations

Spanish Conquest

Mexican Independence

War and Revolution

Recent Developments

Modern Life and Culture in Mexico

Mexican Arts and Entertainment

Cultural Backgrounds of Hispanic Americans

Hispanic Influences on Culture and Politics


For more information on holiday traditions try christmas books by World Book. 


Last updated: May 28, 2012