Here's the real reason why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo

No, it's not Mexico's independence day

ORLANDO, Fla. – Cinco de Mayo is a popular holiday that honors Mexican culture, food and traditions while also commemorating a historic day. 

While many celebrate Cinco de Mayo, there's often some confusion among Americans about the holiday's origins.

So what important event took place that day almost 157 years ago?

Every year, Americans and Mexicans in the U.S. gather in remembrance of Cinco de Mayo. It's typically a day in which many people like to go out for a few drinks, lots of nachos and of course, tacos.

However, it's not Mexico's independence day like most people believe. That's not until Sept.16.

"It was a battle that was with the French Inquisition in the city of Puebla, which is pretty close to Mexico City. The important fact here is that the U.S. military provided weapons to defend Mexico from the invasion from the French inquisition," Oswaldo García Quintero said. "They took them out of the way. That's why they provided weapons to help them out because it was like a coalition between Mexico and the U.S. to try to avoid fighting with the French."

Monett Bailey, a server at El Potro Mexican Restaurant in Winter Park, said the victory was monumental.

"They did not realize that Mexicans would defeat them because they were small compared to their armies," Bailey said.

The battle, which essentially helped the U.S., dates back to May 5, 1862. 

In Mexico, the holiday isn't really hyped up as much as it is here. There are parades and reenactments but mainly in Puebla, the city where the battle was won. 

Plus students have the day off.

Americans go to restaurants and bars to enjoy food, beer and drinks like orchata -- a sweetened rice-based beverage -- tamarindo juice and michelada, a favorite drink among Mexicans.

"It's a mixture of beer, whatever beer you desire, specifically Mexican beer and then we put bloody mary mix, some spices and lime juice," Bailey said.

Whether you're Mexican or not, one thing is for sure: It's a day to highlight the culture and traditions from south of the border.

"Any type of celebration for Mexican culture, it makes me proud, it really makes me feel good because I feel my culture is being appreciated in any way," García Quintero said.

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