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It's a Mexican holiday celebrated by Americans
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Kick up your salsa for Cinco de Mayo: Peppers, garlic and even cactus can give new flavor to salsa.

Every year on Cinco de Mayo, restaurants and bars have parties with specials on margaritas and Mexican beers all in honor of the Mexican holiday.

But if you traveled south of the border on May 5, it would be hard to find one of these celebrations.

Oscar Saenz, manager of Mestizo Southwest Grill in Gainesville, grew up in Puebla, Mexico, and explained to us what the Battle of Puebla holiday means in his hometown.

"There are parades. A lot of schools will have parades and caravans, and will march around the town. And they sing the Mexican (national) anthem," he said. "It's like Fourth of July here. ... It's like a ceremony, not like a festival."

The holiday commemorates the Mexican victory over French forces in 1862.

"The French came to collect debts from Mexico, but ... they really wanted to take over," Saenz said. "When they came they landed in Vera Cruz, which is on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and came to Puebla. So when they got to Puebla, they found resistance. And there was a battle, and they (the French) lost it."

There were about 5,000 French soldiers versus 1,000 Mexicans "with machetes," he continued. "And (the Mexicans) won the battle."

When Saenz moved to the United States several years ago, he said he couldn't imagine why Cinco de Mayo was celebrated in America.

"It didn't make sense, I don't know why it is celebrated here," Saenz said. "I read somewhere that it is celebrated here because the United States helped Mexico. ... But things change over time, I guess."


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