5 de Mayo vs Mexican Independence day

Mexican Independence Day

Contrary to most Americans believe 5 de Mayo (May 5th) isn’t the the Mexican Independence day.

The day Mexicans celebrate their independence is on September 16, as history tells that on that day in 1810 the Mexican rebellion against the Spanish monarchy began.

What happened on 5 de Mayo?

5 de Mayo is the day Mexicans commemorate “La batalla de Puebla”.

The translation of “Batalla” is battle and “Puebla” is a state of Mexico located just below Mexico City famous for its delicious food and its beautiful streets.

The “Battle of Puebla”

As we mentioned before, Mexican Independence war started in 1810. The following years, Mexico went through several armed conflicts.

From 1858 to 1861, they where dealing with their corresponding civil war.

Due to this war the country’s economic condition was deplorable and the division between the winning and losing sides endure for the following years.

As a result of its economic problems, Mexico stop the payment of the external debt to three countries, UK, Spain and France.

These countries were not so happy with the decision and sent their armies to demand payment of what was rightfully theirs.

The Mexican government managed to negotiate with Spain and the Unite Kingdom a deal were they will retire and Mexico will continue the payment. The French empire wasn’t so easy to convince. 

France was a powerful empire that had already expand its territory to the Asian and African continents. They were hopeful for an opportunity on invading a country in the American continent. 

The French army arrived to the Mexican port of Veracruz on 1862. 

France was one of the greatest military powers of the age surpassing the Mexican army in numbers, weapons and training. 

Just as expected, the French overpowered the Mexican first line of defense.

The next big battle was going to take place in “Puebla”. 

On may 5, 1862, the French army, after 50 years without losing a single battle was repelled from the battlefield by a Mexican army which consisted of soldiers, peasants and civilians using a few firearms and machetes.

Because of this early Mexican victory, the French empire added more military power to their lines and began to advance towards the interior of the country. 

After 5 years, in 1867, only a few Mexican states were resisting the french siege. 

Thankfully for Mexico, back in Europe, Germany was becoming a serious treat to the French Empire. And so, Napoleon III, emperor of France, order their troops to come back home.

The Mexican army started to retake the territories they had lost.

16 de septiembre, the Independence Day

Mexico was for a very long time, 1519-1821, part of the territory of the Spanish monarchy under the name of “Nueva España”. After so many years, there were several problems that afflicted its population.

There were several factors that led to an armed movement that sought the creation of an independent country, but 3 can be listed as the main ones:

The division of social classes

While the Spanish enjoyed luxuries and pleasures, the indigenous Mexicans were slaves who worked in a forced manner and had no rights.

New laws in Spain.

Spaniards who were born in Mexico and were children of Spanish parents had enjoyed the same rights as Spaniards born in Spain. But, starting in the early 1800’s, new laws were passed that took privileges away from Spaniards born in Mexico, creating discontent in this sector of the population.

The influence of US independence.

The war that gave freedom to the 13 English colonies and culminated in the creation of the United States of America, set a precedent that demonstrated that the injustices of monarchical governments could be ended and republics governed independently could be created.

In the year 1810, there was an underground movement that later became known as the “Queretaro” conspiracy. This conspiracy was the fuse that detonated the beginning of the war of independence.

One of the members of this conspiracy was the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and it was he who, on the early night of September 16, 1810, called on the Mexican population to take up arms against the bad government.

In this way, the beginning of a war that would last 11 years was given.

It was not until September 27, 1821 that Mexico saw its independence from the Spanish monarchy consummated.


While 5 de Mayo is an important event in Mexican history, it is not a major holiday or not one that Mexicans celebrate throwing one of those big “fiestas” they are famous for.

Altough, September 16 is the day that the war began and not the date it finished, that is the date that Mexicans celebrate their Independence and is one of the most important holidays in this country.

If you are in Playa del Carmen for this holiday, be sure to commemorate this date with your Mexican friends.  If they invite you to a Mexican Party, do not your opportunity to learn first-hand the famous saying “mi casa es tu casa”.

If you are just arriving to Playa del Carmen, you can attend one of the special events that restaurants and bars will be throwing in the famous 5th Ave. We just recommend you to watch out for those Tequila shots.

We at All About Playa we congratulate all our Mexican friends and thank them for celebrating sharing with us this wonderful country that is Mexico!!!

Eduardo from All About Playa

Eduardo from All About Playa

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