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Why and how is Cinco de Mayo celebrated?

05 May 2021 - Category: Blog /
Cinco de Mayo celebrations

Cinco de Mayo celebrations calls for many wonderful parties and will be getting underway across the United States and Mexico. And in many major cities you will see a flood of color and vibrant celebrations of Mexican culture.

But what exactly is Cinco de Mayo and why and how is it celebrated? In this post, we’ll explore the origins of Cinco de Mayo and why it is such a significant annual celebration.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration that takes on May 5th, therefore the name. The day is also known as the ‘Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla’. It is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and the United States to commemorate the military victory of Mexican forces against the French Empire in 1862. At the time it was a victory of small against large and has since become a symbol of Mexican defiance in the face of foreign domination.

In the United States especially, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture, food, music, fashion and history. During the mid 20th century the holiday emerged as a way for Mexican immigrants to celebrate their culture in the U.S.

How to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

There are plenty of ways to enjoy Cinco de Mayo. It is a chance for you to celebrate Mexican culture with parties, parades, traditional food and mariachi music.

One worthwhile way of celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the United States is to support local Mexican businesses. Skip the mass-market chain restaurants and find some great local spots instead. You can also celebrate by supporting galleries or museums that host Mexican art and historical pieces.

A good way to commemorate the day alongside your Mexican neighbours and friends is to understand the customs, traditions and origins of the day. You will probably get more out of the experience by knowing what the day stands for.

Where to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

In a non-pandemic year there are many great Cinco de Mayo celebrations in cities across the United States and Mexico. In particular celebrations across California like Fiesta Broadway and Cinco de Mayo at Olvera Street draw huge crowds. Other cities like San Antonio, Texas and Denver, Colorado are also well known for their huge and lively Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Obviously Puebla, Mexico is where the most significant Cinco de Mayo celebrations often take place. They celebrate with huge festive parties and cultural events. The city also hosts a battle re-enactment which is followed by a triumphant military parade with magnificent floats and dancing.

What do you wear for Cinco de Mayo?

For Cinco de Mayo you can’t go wrong with bright colors. The day is an explosion of floral patterns, fancy frills and ruffled tops. You won’t feel out of place if you have a dress or a shirt with bold, colorful patterns.

Cinco de Mayo is meant to be a joyful occasion and celebrations often have a playful party atmosphere. This means no formal wear and no clothes that prevent you from dancing and having a good time!

What do people eat on Cinco de Mayo?

The food is an important part of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The day is not complete without some traditional Mexican food. This could be Mole Poblano, Grilled Nopales Huaraches, Chalupas or Chiles en nogada. The combination of sweet, savoury and spicy ingredients is a perfect celebration of Mexican food.

Depending on where you are and who you’re celebrating with the options can be completely different. Guacamole is usually present at any Cinco de Mayo party. The most important thing about food on Cinco de Mayo is that it tastes good and is authentic to Mexican cuisine.

7 Interesting Cinco de Mayo facts

Hopefully, you now have a good idea about how and why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated. Here are some additional facts about this significant celebration that you may not have known.

  1. Cinco de Mayo is often confused with the Mexican Independence Day by people outside of Mexico and the US. In fact Independence Day in Mexico (Día de la Independencia), which was declared more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla, is commemorated on September 16.
  2. Cinco de Mayo is not a federalized holiday in Mexico. Unlike most national holidays, banks, offices and stores remain open and people go to work. Puebla, the fourth largest city in Mexico, is the only place in Mexico where everything shuts down to celebrate May 5 as a major holiday.
  3. Mole Poblano is the most iconic dish associated with Cinco de Mayo. It is one of the most popular dishes consumed in Puebla on Cinco de Mayo. The mole sauce is a dark red or brown blend of spices, chillies and chocolate.
  4. In 2020, around 50,000 tons of Mexican avocados were sent to the United States ahead of the Cinco de Mayo festivities. Every year around Cinco de Mayo there is a huge uplift in the sale of Avocados across the United States and Mexico.
  5. To improve relations with Latin American countries, President Roosevelt created the “Good Neighbor Policy” in 1933. As a result, the Cinco de Mayo holiday started to be celebrated in the U.S. and has since become one of the largest annual festive celebrations in the States.
  6. Drinking is a big part of Cinco de Mayo, as it is with most festive celebrations. And in 2013 more than $600 million worth of beer was purchased in the United States for Cinco de Mayo, more than for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick's Day.
  7. People celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Canada too and they do it in their own style! Vancouver, BC celebrates Cinco De Mayo with an annual “skydiving boogie.” They jump out of planes to commemorate the special day.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style

This year things may be different. But you can still make your Cinco de Mayo celebrations great. The day is about having fun with your family and friends. Whether this over Zoom or in person you can always celebrate in style.

Now you know what day Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on and what to wear and why the day is important you can truly take part in the festivities.

If you need to send money home to Mexico to pay for Cinco de Mayo celebrations you can do it safely and easily with Small World’s money transfer service. Small World has great local Mexican support and US support for our customers.

We want to make sure you can make this year's Cinco de Mayo a day to remember!

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