• Bienvenidos! Welcome!
• Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May,
commemorates the 1862 victory by Mexican
forces over French soldiers. The battle known as
La Batalla de Puebla or "The Battle of Puebla"
took place on May 5th
• It is a day marked by many Mexicans and those
with Mexican ties as an important cultural event.
• Let's explore the roots of Hispanic culture by
learning more about this day in the history of
• Cinco de Mayo—or “Fifth of May”—is a Mexican
holiday that commemorates the victory of the Mexican
army over an invading French army at the Battle of
Puebla in 1862.
• It is not, as many people mistakenly believe, Mexico’s
Independence Day (that date is Sept. 16).
• Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated,
the Batalla de Puebla became a symbol of Mexican
unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico
demonstrated to the world that it was willing to
defend itself against foreign intervention.
Undated celebration photo
Mexico, the 5th of May in the Plaza de Armas
• The Battle of Puebla occurred during a tumultuous
period in Mexico’s history. Mexico had gained
independence from Spain in 1821, but a series of
political takeovers and wars—including the Mexican-
American War of 1846–1848 and the Mexican Civil
War of 1858—had left Mexico bankrupt. Mexico was
unable to make payments on the large debts to
England, Spain, and France it had accumulated.
• On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez
issued a statement in which he declared that all
foreign debt payments would be suspended for a
period of two years, but promised that after this
period, payments would resume.
• The English, Spanish, and French refused to
allow President Juárez to suspend payments.
• They decided to invade Mexico and get
payments by whatever means necessary.
Although the Spanish and English soon
abandoned their plans to invade Mexico,
French Emperor Napoleon III persisted,
intending to create an empire in Mexico.
La Batalla de Puebla
• In 1862, the French army began its advance toward
Mexico City. Waiting for the 8,000 French troops on
May 5, 1862, at Puebla, however, were about 5,000
Mestizo and Zapotec Indian troops commanded by
General Ignacio Zaragoza and Colonel Porfirio Diaz, the
commander of the Mexican cavalry.
• The French general ordered a frontal assault on
Puebla. As Diaz’s troops rode to battle the French,
Zaragoza’s fighters held their position and forced the
French to retreat. The Mexican victory at the Batalla
de Puebla halted the French invasion of Mexico.
(on the 500 peso note)
Map of Puebla, Mexico
Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico
• Unfortunately, the victory
was short lived. Upon
hearing the news of the
battle, Napoleon sent
30,000 more troops
overseas to attempt
another invasion of Mexico.
• A year later, the French
were finally able to defeat
the Mexican army, take
over Mexico City, and install
Archduke Maximilian of
Austria as the ruler of
Mexico. Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico
Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico
• Maximilian was crowned
Emperor on April 10, 1864. Both
he and his wife immersed
themselves in Mexico’s culture.
Charlotte changed her name to
the Spanish equivalent and was
known as Empress Carlota.
• Once the U.S. Civil War was over,
the U.S. recognized Benito Juarez
as the legitimate President of
Mexico, and France withdrew its
• Without France’s military
support, Maximilian was
captured and executed by firing
squad on June 19, 1867.
• Folklórico, literally "folkloric dance" in
Spanish, is a collective term for traditional
Latin American dances that emphasize local
El Jarabe Tapatío
• The Jarabe Tapatío, known
in English as the Mexican
Hat Dance, is the title of the
musical piece and the dance
that accompanies it, which
is accorded the title of the
"national dance of
• Women wear the
traditional “China Poblana”
dress and men “Charro”
El Jarabe Tapatío
Click the picture to see the dance
• The mariachi ensemble
generally consists of violins,
trumpets, a classical guitar,
a vihuela (a high-pitched,
five-string guitar), a
guitarrón (a large acoustic
bass) and, on occasion, a
harp or two. They dress in
silver studded charro outfits
with wide-brimmed hats.
• “Cielito Lindo” is a popular
mariachi song written in
1882. It has become a
popular theme song for
Mexicans, recently used in
the FIFA World Cup.
• Click on Enrique Iglesias to
hear “Cielito Lindo”
Mariachi – Click on the picture to
hear “La Raspa”
Click on the picture to hear the
mariachi version of “La Bamba”
La Bandera de México
• This flag is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the
national coat of arms charged in the center of the white
• The current flag was adopted in 1968, but the overall design
has been used since 1821, when the First National Flag was
• The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan
(now Mexico City), the center of their empire. The coat of
arms is derived from an Aztec legend that their gods told
them to build a city where they spot an eagle on a nopal
cactus eating a serpent, which is now Mexico City.
• The tri-color flag includes green (representing hope); white
(representing unity) and red (representing blood of the
• For the most part, Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional
holiday in Mexico, celebrated most enthusiastically in the
state of Puebla and in Mexico City.
• Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has become increasingly
popular along the U.S.–Mexico border and in parts of the
United States that have a high population of people with a
Mexican heritage. In these areas the holiday is a
celebration of Mexican culture and foods, music, and
customs unique to Mexico.
• Parades are a popular expression of celebration on this
holiday, as are mariachi music, folklorico dancing, and
other festive activities.