No, Cinco de Mayo Is Not Mexico's Independence Day

Thursday marks the 154th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo, a holiday synonymous with margaritas and cervezas (beer) that many would be surprised to learn is a bigger deal in the U.S. than in Mexico.

The holiday commemorates Mexico’s victory against the French during the Battle of Puebla in 1862, not Mexico's Independence Day, which is marked on Sept. 16. In fact, it isn’t a Mexican holiday at all but rather an American one created by Latinos in California during the Civil War, according to UCLA professor David Hayes-Bautista.

"Recent Mexican immigrants are often surprised at what a huge thing Cinco de Mayo has become here," Professor Margarita Sánchez of Wagner College told NBC News. "They do celebrate the holiday in Mexico, but it is only a big deal in Puebla."

General Ignacio Zaragosa, the hero of the Battle of Peubla, was born near what is now Goliad, Texas. The fact that a Tejano (or "Tex-Mex") has a link to Cinco de Mayo reflects the reality that Mexican history is part of American history, says Raul Ramos of the University of Houston.

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