Let’s skip past the obvious sombrero/sarape jokes and get straight to the point: far too many people have no clue what Cinco de Mayo is all about nor how it came to be. For the sake of brevity, I present a brief history cheat-sheet on the history and development of the Cinco de Mayo celebration.
From Francine Prose’s article, Savoring Puebla for Smithsonian Magazine:
Like the rest of Mexico, Puebla has had a troubled history marked by war, invasions and revolutions. Several important military confrontations took place there, most famously the Battle of the Fifth of May, Cinco de Mayo, commemorated in a holiday that has assumed great significance for Mexicans living outside their own country. At the battle, which occurred not far from Puebla’s center, on May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French with the aid of local troops. Unfortunately, the French returned a year later and smashed the Mexican forces and occupied Mexico until they were defeated by Benito Juárez in 1867.