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Cinco de Mayo: What Exactly Are We Celebrating?

Liquor stores are selling beer and tequila in bulk in the run-up to Cinco de Mayo. 

The annual celebration of all things Mexican, which seems to get bigger every year in the United States, commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over invading French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Mexico’s defeat of the French helped stymie Napoleon III’s support for Confederate forces in the U.S. Civil War. 

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more widely in the United States than in Mexico, where it’s mainly marked in the state of Puebla. The big national patriotic celebrations in Mexico come on Sept. 16, aka Mexico’s Independence Day.