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The real history of Cinco de Mayo, and how it's celebrated around the world

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The real history of Cinco de Mayo, and how it's celebrated around the world
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty ImagesDancers of the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano before performing at the White House on May 3, 2012.Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican

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Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

... the Mexican holiday celebrated on May 5, is not the Mexican Independence Day, as most people tend to believe. Their actual independence day is celebrated on 16th September.

Cinco de Mayo...

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The All-Day Battle

... after which France surrendered, losing about 500 troops, became a day of Mexican pride.

Out of the 2000 soldiers who fought in the city of Puebla, Mexico lost about 100.

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An All American holiday

Even though the Cinco de Mayo holiday has its origins in Mexican heritage and culture, the celebrations are mostly in America, and in the city of Puebla, where the battle was fought. In the 1960s, ...

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Big Time Celebrations

In the United States, the celebrations for Cinco de Mayo are huge, with community organizations, bars and towns feasting in their own way.

Even the White House took part with some special ...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

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.

Beating back an empire

  • After Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, other nations did not want to recognize its autonomy.
  • After a civil war in the late 1850s, Benito Juárez became Mexico's first indigenous president in 1861.
  • Juárez canceled repayments on foreign loans to protect Mexico's struggling economy.
  • It angered Britain, Spain, and France, and they jointly sent a force to Mexico but withdrew when it became evident that Napoleon III had plans to overthrow the new Mexican government.
  • On May 5, 1862, the Battle of Puebla took place. Although the Mexican Army was outnumbered two to one, they repelled attacks by the French army on the city of Puebla.
  • Four days later, on May 9, 1862, Juárez declared Cinco de Mayo a national holiday.
  • Even though the French eventually defeated the Mexican Army, the battle of Puebla proved that Mexico was a formidable opponent worthy of international respect.

An inadvertent impact

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.

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Labor Day

Labor Day is a public holiday observed in the United States on the first Monday in September.

Labor Day celebrates the contribution of the American system of organized labor and workers to t...

Inventing Labor Day

Labor Day was first observed in 1882, but there is still disagreement who should take credit for its invention.

Some think it is Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Others believe it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist who later was elected secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in line with the plans of the Central Labor Union. 

The Central Labor Union then urged other unions and trade organizations to hold a similar workingmens' holiday on the same date. By 1885, industrial centers nationwide observed Labor Day.

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1800: Jefferson and Adams

1800: Jefferson and Adams

The outcome was so bizarre, the United States had to amend the Constitution.

  • The election of 1800 saw Thomas Jefferson tie with his Democratic-Republican "running mate" Aaron Burr. Both...

1824: 'Corrupt bargain'

  • Andrew Jackson won the popular vote by less than 39,000 ballots and took 99 Electoral College votes. John Quincy Adams secured 84, William Crawford won 41, and Henry Clay had 37.
  • Clay, with the least votes, got the boot, and his supporters shifted their support to Adams, who would go on to win the majority of the House vote.

After his inauguration, Adams selected Clay as his secretary of state. Jackson accused Adams and Clay of a "corrupt bargain."

1860: Nation divided

The 1860 election was notable because it ripped the long-dominant Party (and nation) in half.

  • The Democrats were unable at their 1860 convention to establish an official party line on slavery.
  • At a second convention that year, the Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas, but many Southerners in the party selected Breckinridge as their man. Both would claim to be the official Democratic candidate.
  • Lincoln snared 40% of the popular vote but took most of the North in the Electoral College.
  • Douglas was second in the popular vote but took only Missouri.
  • Breckenridge took most of the South.
  • Bell's middle of the road policies earned him the middle of the road.

In 1861, delegates from South Carolina, and six of the Southern states formed the Confederate States of America and selected Jefferson Davis as their president.

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