The incident saw the French lose more than 500 soldiers, with the Mexican force losing less than 100 men.
The battle took place under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza and saw a smaller Mexican force succeed against a larger French force.
General Zaragoza died months after the battle due to illness.
A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated the Mexican army at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.
Cinco de Mayo was declared a national holiday in 1862.
Celebrations first began in California in 1863 but gained national notoriety in the 1980s due to advertising campaigns among beer and wine companies.