This weekend, metro-Detroiters will celebrate Cinco de Mayo. For many, it’s an excuse to indulge in a platter of enchiladas. But … let’s not forget that Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday for Mexican Americans that dates back to 1861.

Here’s the story: The holiday celebrates the May 5th anniversary when the Mexican militia defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla, a small town in Mexico. The French arrived in Puebla with 6,000 troops while the Mexican militia had only 2,000 untrained soldiers.

The battle lasted from dawn until dusk and the French finally retreated when it suffered a great loss of soldiers. The Battle of Puebla was the first of many that would continue for six years between the two countries. Mexico was the underdog in this battle but rose triumphantly.

The city was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the Mexican general – Ignacio Zaragoza – who led them to this victory. Mexico eventually won its independence from France and today, remains an independent country.