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Cinco de Mayo 2014: History, Origin and Significance; 10 Fun Facts to Know

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | May 5, 2014 7:03 PM EST

Cinco de Mayo is annually observed on 5 May, the anniversary of the victory in the fight for independence from French forces in 1862. The festival, however, extends beyond its history and is often held as a celebration of Mexican pride and heritage in the United States, and is often greeted with the Spanish expression Feliz Cinco de Mayo.

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Cinco de Mayo: History, origin, significance and 10 fun facts to know. (Photo: Reuters)

Far from what the day actually signifies, the festival has spawned over the years as the celebration and recognition of culture, achievements and experiences of people with a Mexican background, who live in the United States. Cinco de Mayo has traditional aspects to its celebration with symbols of Mexican life, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, and Mexican-Americans who have achieved popularity, fortune and influence, often taking the centre stage while marking the day.

The largest of Cinco de Mayo celebrations takes place in cities such as Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver and El Paso in the US' south-west regions.

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo 2014, here are the 10 most essential facts about the day including its historical background, significance and some fun facts associated with the day:

1. Cinco de Mayo is an official commemoration of the anniversary of an early victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on 5 May 5 1862. It is said that it was a very unexpected victory by untrained, ill-equipped Mexican soldiers who fought with discipled, well-armed French army.

2. Cinco de Mayo is not the anniversary of the defeat and expulsion of the French forces by the Mexicans which took place in 1867.

3. It is also often misunderstood that the Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's celebration of independence, which is actually held on 16 September. The Mexican Independence occurred in 1810, more than 50 years prior to the Battle of Puebla.

4. In Mexico, the holiday is known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla) and the state of Puebla hosts a battle reenactment each year.

5. The United States Census Bureau notes that the United States is home to nearly 33.7 million resident who are of Mexican origin.

6. The largest Cinco de Mayo celebration occurs in Los Angeles, California which has 12 million Mexican-origin people - the largest among all cities in the US.

7. Cinco de Mayo was popularized by Chicano activists in the US in the 1960s and 1970s, who identified with the Mexican Indian and Mestizo (people of Mexican Indian and European descent) soldiers' triumph over European conquest attempts, the Parents Magazine notes.

8. Cinco de Mayo is one of the 365 festivals celebrated by people of Mexican descent.

9. American use around 87 million pounds of avocados during Cinco de Mayo celebration, according to the California Avocado Commission.

10. Americans spend about $2.9 billion annually on margaritas - which accounts for 14 percent of the country's cocktail sales. Cinco de Mayo is the biggest day for margarita sales, but the skyrocketing prize of lime is now making the lime juice in the margaritas more costly than the tequila in it, Bloomberg reports.

(ED:AJ)

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Cinco de Mayo: History, origin, significance and 10 fun facts to know. (Photo: Reuters)
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