First Cinco De Mayo
Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza successfully defended the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862, temporarily halting France's efforts to establish a puppet regime in Mexico.
With the U.S. absorbed by the Civil War, Emperor Napoleon III hoped to create a French sphere of influence in Latin America. The victory is commemorated as a national holiday in Mexico.
The Mexican victory at Puebla was short-lived. French reinforcements seized the town in March 1863. The following June, Maximilian, younger brother of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and a member of the Hapsburg dynasty, was crowned emperor of Mexico. He remained in power until 1867, when Napoleon III abandoned his Mexican adventure and withdrew his troops.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become an occasion to celebrate Hispanic culture. Fairs commemorating the day feature singing, dancing, food, and other amusements, and provide a means of sharing a rich and diverse culture.
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a regional holiday in Mexico, primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.
The Battle was important for at least two reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army. "This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years." Second, although countries in the Americas have been attacked since May 5, 1862, (Falkland Islands, Pearl Harbor, etc), no country in the Americas has been invaded by an army from another continent since then except for the brief occupation of two of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands by the Japanese Army during World War II.