How is Cinco De Mayo Celebrated?
Hint: There’s more to this Mexican holiday than tacos and tequila. If you are old enough to go out and imbibe a cocktail once in a while, (or maybe you’re not…), it’s extremely possible you’re aware of the traditional Mexican holiday that happens every year on the 5th of May: Cinco de Mayo!
In honor of this festive holiday where we eat Mexican food and throw back some cold beverages, we want to explore the history behind the celebration and why it has so much meaning here in America. With so many hispanic immigrants in the U.S. the traditions they’ve brought with them are literally celebrated all over America. We think that’s magnifico, so let’s dive in together!
Why do we celebrate Cinco De Mayo?
All over America, Mexican restaurants, cantinas and even non-Mexican drinking establishments do special Cinco de Mayo celebrations —usually in the form of drink and food deals. In America, it’s yet another holiday we use an excuse to go out and F-I-E-S-T-A…if you catch our drift. Hey, it’s the cold frosty margarita truth, isn’t it?
Meaning behind the 5th of May
Often mistakenly for Mexican Independence Day, no lo es! (It’s not. That is Sept. 16th).
El Cinco De Mayo actually commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. French troops vastly outnumbered the small army of Mexican soldiers that were assembled to battle the French.
Miraculously, Mexico won the battle and the French retreated. Though not a major win in the war overall, this win came to symbolize a great triumph that seemed impossible against all odds.
To further add to the list of things that make you go “huh?” is that Cinco De Mayo is actually celebrated more in America than in Mexico! (Though it is still very much celebrated in Puebla —the state where the battle took place.) Read more about the history of the holiday.
So, why do we celebrate it in the United States?
Since the early 20th century, Mexican immigrants have been coming to the United States and settling throughout the country. They have brought with them their traditions, customs and holidays —including Day of the Dead and Cinco de Mayo.
Are Cinco De Mayo and Day of the Dead the same?
Definitely not! Many people get these two celebrations confused, but Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated Nov. 1st and 2nd. It is two days of festivities and is definitely the bigger celebration of the two.
Day of the Dead is widely celebrated all over Mexico and is a holiday steeped in rich traditions and rituals. All with the purpose of commemorating loved one’s who have passed on. Americans started celebrating Cinco de Mayo to show solidarity with Mexico against the French in 1863. Even though it’s a minor holiday in Mexico, it has grown to become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. I mean, who doesn’t love a themed holiday? It makes sense!
Which is where we find ourselves today…
Even though we can get behind any reason to eat tacos and drink margaritas, it’s important to trace back the significance of the holiday so we have that context. So, we’re not just celebrating in ignorance, so to speak.
With a little research, we find that Cinco de Mayo is really about honoring bravery in the face of insurmountable challenges. Now, that we really can raise a glass too!
So, now that you know the WHY behind this fantastically festive holiday filled with many cosas maravillosas (wonderful things) —Mexican food, bright colors, mariachis, and muchas fiestas, let us explain how you can celebrate 5 de Mayo with the best of the them!
How can we celebrate?
Find a local Cinco de Mayo event near you!
Most major cities around the U.S. hold Cinco de Mayo cultural festivals or activities filled with traditional music, baile folklorico (folk dancing), food and drink. It’s a wonderful way to make a day of experiencing a culture different from your own, right in the comfort of your own city. Google Cinco de Mayo events near me and check one out!
Support Mexican owned restaurants and businesses
Many restaurants will have Cinco de Mayo food and drink, so go somewhere authentic and take advantage! Additionally, you could check out a Hispanic artisan shop or stop at a craft booth at an event and snag some art.
Throw a party and dress up in a Cinco de Mayo Costume!
How about throwing a colorful south-of-the-border themed fiesta, and dressing up to match? If bright colors aren’t your thing, you and your friends can pose for a contest of ‘Who Wore It Best?’ Taco Edition! PS, don’t sleep on the Guac.
Cinco Party decor ideas
As we stated before, vibrant colorful decor is key to throwing an amazing 5 de mayo celebration your amigos will never forget. Be sure to accent with fun balloons, paper flowers or hang papel picado. And, don’t forget the piñata because yes, it’s STILL fun to hit that thing whether you’re 5 or 55.
Also, it doesn’t even have to be Cinco De Mayo to have a fiesta themed bash! A party like this, can be done for birthdays, anniversaries or any festive occasion you see fit to celebrate with colorful decor, themed party favors and delicious food!
Cinco de Mayo food. (The possibilities are literally, ENDLESS!)
As I’m sure you can tell by reading this article, we love Mexican food…mucho! Our mouths water just thinking about: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, ceviche, chili rellenos, elote, horchata… we could go on, but we’ll stop now.
Cater in the food, or for a challenge, try cooking Birria (Mexican beef stew) or Mole Poblano —a spicy traditional dish originating from the city of Puebla.
Well, there you have it muchachos y muchachas, our guide to having the most epic fiesta ever! Feliz 5 de Mayo!