A common misconception among Americans is that Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico's independence. In the US the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture.
But, the actual reason for the holiday is to celebrate the Mexican army's victory over France on May 5 1862.
But just as Christmas has turned into a commercial event and St. Patrick's Day has turned into an excuse to get trashed, Cinco de Mayo in the United States is more or less a drinking day that superficially celebrates Mexican culture in general.
The Battle of Puebla pitted 2,000 Mexican troops against a French force of 6,000. Whatever your style, here's everything you need to know to make it your best Cinco de Mayo ever.
An email to Gonzaga University students warned against "cultural appropriation" on Cinco de Mayo, and said that the holiday has been abused by "non-Mexican individuals". The French retreated though it would take six more years - and more battles - to convince the French to exit Mexico. That defeat nearly singlehandedly restored national pride to a country that had been torn apart by civil war and foreign invasions for decades, and to this day it has become a staple celebration throughout the entire continent. Cities and towns with large Mexican-American populations have held parades, put on shows with mariachi music and folk dances, and enjoyed traditional food including mole poblano since the 1960s when Chicanos raised awareness around it.