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 defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.
The Battle was significant for at least two reasons. First, while outnumbered almost two-to-one, the Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army that had known no defeat for almost 50 years. Second, this battle was important because it would be "the last time that an army from another continent invaded the Americas. While significant, however, Cinco de Mayo is not an obligatory federal holiday in Mexico.
While Cinco de Mayo has limited or no significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. However, a common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day. Mexico's Independence Day is actually September 16 (dieciséis de septiembre in Spanish), which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.