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The true story of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco De Mayo is often associated in the U.S. with rowdy, Mexican-themed parties and excessive consumption of tequila, but the holiday carries with it a story of resistance against insurmountable forces.

Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which falls on Sept. 16, Cinco De Mayo, May 5, commemorates Mexico's military victory in 1862 over the occupational French forces of Napoleon III.

English, Spanish and French troops invaded Mexico in 1861 when the country, financially drained by two previous wars, declared a temporary moratorium on the payment of foreign debts. 

By the following year, Spanish and English forces had withdrawn, but the French remained with support from wealthy landowners.

On May 5, 1862, General Ignacio Zaragoza led a poorly equipped, ragtag group of freedom fighters to victory against French troops at the Battle of Puebla. An estimated 1,000 French soldiers were killed in that battle.

France, however, would return with greater force and overtake Mexico City in the Second Battle of Puebla in 1863.

After the end of the American Civil War, the United States began sending money and arms to Mexican forces, which hammered the French and their supporters until Napoleon III declared a withdrawal from the country in 1866.

While the first Battle of Puebla on May 5 did not immediately lead to the end of French occupation in Mexico, it signaled an important point of Mexican resistance to foreign occupation.

The city, since renamed Puebla de Zaragoza is home to a museum dedicated to the battle, and the historic battlefield is maintained as a public park.

The city of Puebla marks Cinco de Mayo with various festivals and reenactments of the battle.

Cinco de Mayo is less popular in other parts of Mexico, at least compared to in the United States, where the holiday is widely observed as a celebration of Mexican/American culture. 

Mainstream enthusiasm for Cinco de Mayo took off in the 1980s thanks to advertising campaigns for beer, wine and tequila companies, and the holiday now generates more beer sales than the Super Bowl.

Cinco de Mayo, of course is an important holiday for Soldadera Coffee, not just because of our Mexican heritage but because it is an inspiring story of revolutionary figures rising up against a greater oppressive force.

If you're trying to lay off the alcohol this holiday, you can still enjoy the revolutionary flavors of Soldadera cold brew!

Follow us on social media @soldaderacoffee and share with us how you're celebrating Cinco de Mayo!

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