Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday filled with several fallacies. Today we are going to share some little-known facts about this fun holiday. Getting the facts straight will help you better appreciate this holiday rooted deep in regional traditions.
A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s celebration of independence (Día de la Independencia de México), but that date is September 16. This September holiday celebrates the day when Spain withdrew their rule on the native people and recognized Mexico as an independent country in 1821.
Translated as “the fifth of May”, Cinco de Mayo commemorates a Mexican military victory. It celebrates Mexico’s unlikely defeat of France invaders in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The May 5 victory was a symbolic win for the Mexican government and provided a morale boost that inspired pride and unity.
In the United States, this day is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations. Today, revelers celebrate the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folkloric dancing, and traditional foods. During the 1960s, Chicano activists brought awareness to the holiday in the States because they identified with the victory of indigenous Mexicans over European invaders during the Battle of Puebla.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated. May 5th is not considered a federal holiday in Mexico, only a day of remembrance. It is simply a day off for students, while for many it is a workday as banks, offices, and government buildings remain open. The city of Puebla hosts Mexico’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration. Each year they celebrate by having a parade, fireworks, a reenactment of the battle, and festivities with music and food.
Los Angeles, California hosts the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations with huge street fairs. Olvera Street, one of the oldest streets in LA, hosts a marketplace complete with mariachi music, traditional Mexican cuisine, and crafts. There are also large celebrations held in Chicago, Illinois and Houston, Texas. Here’s a fun fact – according to the market research company Nielsen, Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer in 2013 for Cinco de Mayo. Also, did you know that it was only in 2005 that Congress declared Cinco de Mayo as an official U.S. holiday?
Given the current climate, some 2021 Cinco de Mayo events might have been canceled or altered. Please contact event organizers for up-to-date information.
Wishing you all a colorful, fun, and festive Cinco de Mayo!