Americans might love Cinco de Mayo, but few know what they're celebrating
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Cinco de Mayo doesn’t mark Mexican Independence, as many believe.
Instead, it’s meant to celebrate the Battle of Puebla, which was fought between the Mexican and French armies in 1862.
By defeating the French at the Battle of Puebla, Mexicans stopped the French army from moving northward toward the U.S. border, where they would likely have helped the Confederacy.
Mexico's victory likely changed the course of American history. The state of California viewed the victory as a defense of freedom.
During the 1980s and 1990s, beer companies targeted Mexican Americans, encouraging them to celebrate their heritage with Bud Lights and Dos Equis.
Commodification soon followed, and today's revelers purchase piñatas, Mexican flag items, sombreros, and costumes.
The legacy of Cinco de Mayo reminds us that the past is made meaningful in different ways by different people.
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