Dates and Origins of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo Dates in 2024, 2025 and 2026

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated at the following dates:

Cinco de Mayo, which translates directly into Spanish as the “fifth of May,” happens annually on that date.

Contrary to many Americans' beliefs, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican independence day but rather a celebration to commemorate the Mexican victory over the french at the battle of Puebla under general Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin1.


After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago and the Reform War of 1858 to 1861 to 1861, the Mexican Treasury was nearly bankrupt. In 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium declaring that all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years2. France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz in response, but Spain and Britain, realizing Napoleon III intended to conquer Mexico and install a puppet government, decided to withdraw2. Napoleon III attempted to use this opportunity to instate a government that favored french interest2.

Late in 1861, the French army stormed Veracruz and fought towards Mexico city. A poorly equipped Mexican force of 2,000 resisted the heavily armed french force of 6,000 nearby Puebla at the forts Loreto and Guadalupe3. Despite being outnumbered and out armed, Mexico defeated the French forces on May 5, 1862, in a decisive victory against the premier army of the time. The Mexican victory sparked renewed moral, national unity and patriotism despite holding little strategic significance3.

After the battle of Puebla, France sent an army of 30,000 men to defeat and conquer Mexico, which was then ruled by Emporer Maximilian I from 1864-18654. After this time, the U.S. was no longer in the thralls of civil war and helped a Mexican resistance expel the French forces4.


The first celebration of Cinco de Mayo was by Mexican gold miners in Columbia, California in the 1860s in response to the resistance Mexico at the battle of Puebla5. Here, the holiday has been celebrated since the rise of the Chicano movement in the 1940s6. It was then that the holiday spread to the rest of the United States.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not an official public holiday nationwide, though public schools are closed nationally on Cinco de Mayo and the state of Puebla and Veracruz both have work off3.