Cinco de Mayo Context

This special date is more than just a day for margaritas and tacos—it’s got a fascinating history! Way back in 1862, Mexico was in a tough spot, facing a big challenge from France. The French army was rolling through, aiming to take over Mexico. But then, something unexpected happened: a small Mexican army in the town of Puebla stood up and said, “No way!” They fought hard against the much larger French force and won against the odds! That’s the big event we celebrate on Cinco de Mayo—the victory of the underdog over Napoleon’s big guys.

Now, why did it happen? Well, it was a mix of courage, determination, and a good ol’ fighting spirit. The people of Mexico weren’t about to let anyone walk all over them. So, on Cinco de Mayo, we remember that spirit of standing strong against tough odds. It’s a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride and to remember that even when things seem impossible, a little grit can go a long way. Happy Cinco de Mayo! 🎉

Battle of Puebla
Contemporary painting of the Battle of Puebla

Cinco de Mayo vs Mexican Independence Day

These two right here are both big days for celebrating Mexican culture, but they’re not the same thing. This date is all about remembering a specific battle in 1862 when Mexico defeated the French army in Puebla. It’s like a moment of Mexican heroism, showing that even against tough odds, they could stand tall. Mexican Independence Day, on the other hand, is like the big birthday party for Mexico. It’s celebrated on September 16th to mark the day in 1810 when Mexico declared independence from Spain.

So, the main difference is the events they celebrate and when they happen. Cinco de Mayo is about a specific battle victory, while Mexican Independence Day is about the country gaining freedom from Spanish rule. Both are awesome times to celebrate Mexican culture, but they’re different pieces of history. It’s not a big deal whether you’re cheering on Cinco de Mayo with some delicious tacos or waving a flag on Mexican Independence Day. The main point here is all about showing love for Mexico and its amazing culture and history. 💚🤍❤️

cinco de mayo (dancer)
Dancers at the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington, D.C., U.S.

Popularity in the U.S.

Cinco de Mayo became super popular in the United States pretty quickly! Many changes in who lives here helped make it a big cultural event. Did you know Latinos are now the biggest minority in the U.S.? Yup, with 62.1 million people, they make up about 18.9% of the population, according to the 2020 Census.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Cinco de Mayo started to get attention, partly because people were feeling extra friendly. José Alamillo, a professor at Washington State University, told National Geographic in 2006 that it got more popular thanks to something called the Good Neighbor policy.

“It was all about reaching out to our neighboring countries”. Cinco de Mayo was seen as a way to connect those two cultures. As the ’60s rolled in, Mexican-American activists, also known as Chicanos, really took to the holiday, using it to boost pride among Mexican-Americans. Plus, experts say that the victory on Cinco de Mayo in 1862 sends a big message against big countries trying to boss smaller ones around—a message that hits home for many Mexican-Americans in the U.S.

cinco de mayo
Cinco De Mayo Celebrations

Traditional Food

Ah, Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t be complete without its delicious traditional food and drinks! Picture this: tables loaded with tacos, enchiladas, and tamales—yum!

Here is a list of top traditional dishes and drinks for Cinco de Mayo. Cheers!:

  • Tacos: Delicious folded tortillas filled with seasoned meat, vegetables, and toppings like salsa and guacamole.
  • Enchiladas: Corn tortillas rolled around a filling, typically chicken, beef, or cheese, and topped with sauce and cheese.
  • Tamales: Steamed corn dough stuffed with various fillings such as meats, cheese, or vegetables, wrapped in corn husks.
  • Guacamole and Chips: Creamy mashed avocados mixed with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and spices, served with crispy tortilla chips.
  • Quesadillas: Tortillas filled with cheese and sometimes other ingredients like meats or vegetables, then grilled or toasted until the cheese is melted.
  • Salsa: A flavorful sauce made from tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and spices, served as a dip or topping for various dishes.
  • Margaritas: A classic cocktail made with tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and sometimes simple syrup, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass.
  • Horchata: A sweet and creamy rice-based drink flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, served over ice.
  • Agua Frescas: Refreshing fruit-based drinks made with water, fresh fruit, sugar, and sometimes lime juice or other flavorings.
  • Flan: A creamy caramel custard dessert made with eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla, often served chilled.

These traditional foods and drinks are perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo and enjoying the rich flavors of Mexican cuisine. Cinco de Mayo food is something that as a foodie you need to try. So grab a plate, pour yourself a drink, and let the Cinco de Mayo fiesta begin! 🌮🍹

cinco de mayo food
Cinco de Mayo food in Sonoma, California

Places to Celebrate

If you’re looking for some awesome spots to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, you’ve got plenty of options! One top pick is Puebla, the place where it all began. They go out with parades, reenactments of the historic battle, and lots of yummy street food to enjoy. It’s like stepping back in time and feeling the pride of Mexican history right in the heart of where it happened.

Here’s a brief list of places in Puebla where you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo:

  • Zocalo de Puebla: The main square of Puebla, where you can join in on lively street celebrations, watch parades, and enjoy traditional music and dance performances.
  • Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe: These historic sites commemorate the Battle of Puebla with reenactments, exhibitions, and cultural activities in Cinco de Mayo.
  • Calle de los Dulces: Known for its sweet treats, this street is a great place to indulge in traditional Mexican candies and desserts. You will love the festive atmosphere.
  • Mercado El Parían: Explore this cool market to sample local cuisine, shop for crafts and souvenirs, and join in on Cinco de Mayo festivities organized by vendors and artisans.
  • Barrio del Artista: This artsy neighborhood comes alive on Cinco de Mayo with open-air galleries, street performances, and cultural events celebrating Mexican art and creativity.

Another fantastic spot is Mexico City, the capital full of energy and excitement. Here, you’ll find colorful festivities happening all around town, from colorful street parties to cultural events with traditional music, and dance.

And of course, there’s no shortage of delicious food and refreshing drinks to keep the celebration going strong. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Puebla or Mexico City, you’re sure to have an unforgettable Cinco de Mayo experience. The culture and spirit of Mexico are waiting for you to discover it.

puebla mexico
Fountain of Puebla’s Historic Center


In conclusion, Cinco de Mayo is more than just a day on the calendar—it’s a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride that brings people together in joy and camaraderie. From its humble beginnings as a commemoration of a historic battle in Puebla to its widespread popularity across the United States and beyond, Cinco de Mayo serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the Mexican spirit.

So now you know it. Taste delicious tacos and margaritas, dance to lively music, or simply enjoy the company of friends and family. Cinco de Mayo is a time to come together, celebrate, and honor the rich cultural traditions that make Mexico so incredible and full of life. Here’s to many more years of festive Cinco de Mayo celebrations, spreading joy and unity wherever the fiesta takes us!

Informative Video

The big celebration of Cinco de Mayo is for everyone!