I remember getting so excited about Cinco de Mayo in college. I knew that it meant May 5th in Spanish and was some sort of Mexican holiday. I could never remember what the holiday was exactly, but I remember thinking it was like the Mexican Independence Day... and more importantly, an excuse to drink!!
Well, a few years out of college I decided to look into what Cinco de Mayo really meant. Here's what I found out in a nutshell: It is Spanish for 5th of May, but it is NOT a Mexican Independence Day (that's September 16). It is however, a holiday to celebrate Mexico's victory over the French on May 5, 1862.
The most interesting thing to me was that it is not a federal holiday in Mexico, but rather a holiday that one can choose to observe. Yet it is celebrated widely in the US and other countries to observe Mexican heritage. I would have never guessed that!
It is nice that we take a day to celebrate Mexican heritage here in the states... though I venture to guess that today is more like another excuse to throw a party to more Americans. Either way, Happy Cinco de Mayo!