What Is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo, (the fifth of May) is a holiday celebrating a victory by the Mexican army on May 5, 1862, in a battle in the city of Puebla. At that time, the emperor of France, Napoleon III, had invaded Mexico, seeking to take control of the country and make it part of the French empire. The Mexican army was outnumbered in Puebla by three to one but still won the battle, and its victory inspired the rest of the country.
Why Is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated?
Shortly after the battle in 1862, Mexico’s president at the time, Benito Juárez, declared a national holiday celebrating the victory in Puebla on May 5. In Mexico, the holiday has traditionally been low-key, but Mexican Americans began to celebrate it as early as 1863. As the holiday became more popular in the United States during the 20th century, celebrations there lost some of the connection to the Puebla battle. But the story of a small group of Mexicans overcoming a larger, more powerful opponent remains inspiring to many, and it’s still an important celebration of Mexican culture.
How Is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Mexico?
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo celebrations focus on the battle and its impact on Mexican history. The city of Puebla, where the battle took place, hosts a reenactment and parade with floats and costumes. People there spend time with their families and remember their ancestors, some of whom fought in the battle. Other cities, like Mexico City, hold similar celebrations, but the holiday isn’t celebrated everywhere in Mexico.
Is Cinco de Mayo Mexican Independence Day?
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, which takes place on September 16. Independence Day is a much bigger and more important holiday in Mexico. It became a holiday in 1810 during the Mexican War of Independence, more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla took place. Every year, the president of Mexico gives a speech during a special ceremony honoring Mexican independence, and the country celebrates with food, parades, fireworks, and more.
One of our team members celebrates his Mexican heritage with his family through food, and he has graciously shared two delicious recipes with us. If you want to observe Cinco de Mayo with your kids, we welcome you to serve up Gabe’s family salsa and guacamole, and have a chat about the origins of the holiday while you eat.