“When I was younger, I thought Cinco de Mayo was a holiday for mayonnaise,” said Amber Seidel, a senior studying child development. So what is Cinco de Mayo and what is it celebrating?

On May 5 1862, 6,000 French troops invaded the city of Puebla, Mexico, where 2,000 Mexican soldiers were waiting for battle, according to history.com. General Juarez Zaragoza and his men fought from morning till early evening. One hundred of his men were killed, along with 500 French soldiers. The battle became a symbol of Mexican resistance against French imperialism.

Since that day, Mexicans have been celebrating the victory of General Zaragoza and his men. The battle of Puebla is remembered every year even in the United States.

In the United States, many Civil War soldiers celebrated Cinco de Mayo to boost morale, according to history.com. The Union began to fight for their rights, and they found strength in hearing how the Mexican soldiers of Puebla won against France.

“As David Hayes-Bautista, author of El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, told the Associated Press, Hispanic Americans in the western U.S. even celebrated Cinco de Mayo in parades while dressed in Civil War uniforms,” according to vox.com.

Cinco de Mayo celebrations have changed throughout the years.

Many people celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parades, mariachi music, piñatas, folk dancing and Mexican food, according to history.com.

“I am Mexican,” said Jennifer Morales, a sophomore studying psychology. “My family always throws a big party, and we bring in the piñatas. We eat tacos and elotes. But it’s a time when we all get together as a family.”

You do not have to be Mexican to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

“Even though I am not Mexican, a lot of my friends are, and they showed me how great of a holiday it is,” said Katie Chipman, a freshman majoring in general studies. “My friends would invite me over, and I would meet the whole family. I saw how family-oriented the holiday was.”

Even though traditions have changed since 1862, the history is still remembered.

“It’s important for my parents to teach us about our history,” Morales said. “It makes me proud to be Mexican.”

Cinco de Mayo is an important holiday in Mexican culture. It teaches the strength of those Mexican men who fought, even though it was two French soldiers to every one Mexican soldier. Against those odds, they still won and kept their land from French imperialism. We can still learn much from what happened in 1862 on the fifth of May, according to history.com.