It’s hard to forget what day Cinco de Mayo lands on every year, as its Spanish name translates literally to “fifth of May.” But, just being named in the same convention as the Fourth of July doesn’t make it a celebration of independence for the United States’ southern neighbor. Mexico celebrates its independence day on Grito de Dolores on September 16. Grito de Dolores translates to "Cry of Dolores," which was the battle cry first uttered by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the parish priest of Dolores, and initiated Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.
Cinco de Mayo is actually the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, which Mexico fought against France way back in 1862. Of course, Mexico was victorious in this battle, despite being out-manned nearly two-to-one, pitting about 4,500 men against 6,500 to 8,000 French soldiers. Mexico’s underdog victory has inspired national pride ever since, hence the annual holiday, which caught on in the United States with Mexican-American communities in the in the west as a way to commemorate freedom during the first years of the American Civil War
The biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration can be found in Los Angeles, where more than 600,000 people celebrate with bountiful food and music. For Mexico, the country where the holiday was established, the state of Puebla is where you will find the largest Mexican celebration. In Chandler, Arizona, they hold a unique event to celebrate the holiday: Chihuahua races, with a king and queen Chihuahua being crowned to top it off. You can celebrate at home and try making some of your own Mexican dishes, such as enchiladas, burritos, guacamole or tacos.