What is Cinco de Mayo? What you should know

Friday is Cinco de Mayo, also referred to as Battle of Puebla Day.

This yearly event honors the day in 1862 when Mexico defeated the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. While it's sometimes mistaken for Día de la Independencia, Mexico's Independence Day, on Sept. 16, Cinco de Mayo is still a significant day in Mexico's history, and it also celebrates Mexican American culture in the United States.

Read on for more information about Cinco de Mayo:

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What is Cinco de Mayo? And why is it celebrated?

Cinco de Mayo is a yearly celebration commemorating the Mexican army's triumph over the French Empire during the Franco-Mexican War.

In 1862, Mexico was engaged in a conflict with France after French Emperor Napoleon III sent his troops to claim Mexican territory. On May 5 of that year, a small Mexican force defeated a much larger French army in the Battle of Puebla.

This victory was significant because it demonstrated Mexico's ability to resist foreign occupation and marked the beginning of the push to expel France from the country. The battle also played a role in the American Civil War by preventing the Confederacy from gaining an ally in France. The Mexican government declared May 5 a national holiday to commemorate the victory.

Why doesn't Mexico celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Although Cinco de Mayo isn't a major holiday in Mexico, it has evolved into an annual celebration of Mexican American culture in the United States. Initially, Cinco de Mayo emerged as a way to resist the repercussions of the Mexican-American War that took place in the late 1800s. The holiday gained popularity during the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and by the 1980s, businesses began commercializing the holiday. Today, Cinco de Mayo festivities take place in both the United States and Mexico, notably in Puebla, where the battle took place.

How does Columbus celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Columbus' Cinco de Mayo celebrations typically amount to food and drink specials at local Mexican restaurants (and other restaurants as well.)

Check out these seven Mexican eateries to make your Cinco de Mayo a real fiesta, including local favorites like Los Guachos and Dos Hermanos.

Reporting from USA Today was used in this story.

tmoorman@dispatch.com

@taijuannichole

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Everything to know about Cinco de Mayo