Cinco de Mayo Is Not Mexico’s Independence Day

By | April 6, 2019

test article image
Cinco de Mayo dancers. Source: (

Despite popular belief, May 5 is not Mexico’s Independence Day. That honor falls to September 16. While still an important date in Mexico’s history, May 5 is not considered a federal holiday, though it is still celebrated with festivals and parades. Ironically, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in the United States, where it has become the epitome of Mexican culture and where it is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day.

The original Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 1862, was the day that the Mexican army defeated the French forces during the Battle of Puebla, despite being outmatched. This wasn’t the final battle that won the war. In fact, France would capture Puebla the following year and continue to control Mexico until 1867. However, the seemingly impossible victory was the confidence boost the country need to resist foreign domination.

test article image
Municipal president giving the "grito" of "¡Viva México!" at the commencement of Independence Day festivities at 11 pm 16 September 2008 in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. Source: (

Mexico’s actual Independence Day occurred shortly after Napoleon invaded Spain. Colonists took advantage of this opportunity to revolt. On September 16, 1810, political leader Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla delivered a call to arms, entitled the “Cry of Dolores,” which began the Mexican War of Independence. Mexico won the war in 1821; however, independence was not accompanied by peace. The colonists were from varying backgrounds and had varying ideas regarding the future of the new country.