10 Things You Didn't Know About Cinco De Mayo To Get You Ready To Celebrate

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo — or the fifth of May — is a traditional Mexican holiday involving parades, dancing, Mexican-themed dishes, and so much more. Knowing the history behind the holiday makes the celebration all the more meaningful. For example, did you know Cinco de Mayo is actually considered a minor holiday in Mexico, but evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage in other countries with large Mexican-American populations?

For this reason, the holiday is particularly big in the United States, but many people of non-Hispanic heritage also like to participate. If you are unfamiliar with the history behind the holiday, it is especially important to educate yourself so you can be sure you are showing cultural appreciation, not cultural appropriation, during the festivities. 

So, before you celebrate on May 5, take a look at some interesting facts about Cinco de Mayo and how the holiday came to be.


1. The holiday commemorates Mexico's victory against France.

The holiday celebrates Mexico defeating the French army during the Battle of Puebla (Batalla de Puebla) in Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862. Despite Mexico having significantly less troops and being unprepared, they were victorious. 

2. It is not the same as Mexican Independence Day.

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16, and the event actually took place 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. Despite this, there is often some confusion between the two.

3. Traditional Mexican Cinco de Mayo celebrations include battle reenactments and parades.

Many celebrations around the world feature parades and parties, but Mexico's Cinco de Mayo celebrations often include battle reenactments and political speeches. These are especially common in the state of Puebla, where the victory of the battle is thought to have occurred.  

4. Worldwide Cinco de Mayo festivities celebrate Hispanic culture.

Popular Cinco de Mayo parties feature traditional Mexican food, music,  parades, and performers. Mariachi bands and dancing are common at festivals across the world. In the United States, many people celebrate with a margarita and a taco while enjoying the performances.

Participants who are not of Hispanic heritage can participate without being culturally appropriative by learning about the history of Cinco de Mayo, listening to people of Hispanic origin's stories, sample traditional foods, and appreciating the different aspects of Hispanic culture.

5. It's not even a federal holiday in Mexico.

People around the world may celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but they still have to go to work. The same thing applies to the majority of Mexico where banks and stores are still open. Cinco de Mayo is only considered a public holiday in Puebla

6. Cinco de Mayo began to be widely celebrated in the United States in the 1960s, and now the celebrations are huge.

As of July 2015, the Hispanic population in the USA was calculated to be 56.6 million, making it the largest ethnic minority in the country. Therefore, it is no surprise that Cinco de Mayo is a massive celebration across the country. In fact, it is reported that Cinco de Mayo is more widely celebrated in the United States than Mexico, where the festivities are often focused in the the Puebla region

According to Mental Floss, the El Movimento, the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, helped the holiday become more of a widespread holiday in the States. 

7. Millions of avocados are consumed during the celebrations.

According to HLN TV, it is reported by the California Avocado Commission that Americans consume up to 81 million avocados on Cinco de Mayo. That is a lot of guacamole. 

8. Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos are not the same thing.

Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead in English, is a Mexican holiday which takes place on November 1. The occasion is about remembering those who have passed away. It is sometimes referred to as "All Souls Day."

9. Tacos aren't the most popular Cinco de Mayo dish in Mexico.

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that mole poblano is likely the most consumed dish in Puebla for Cinco de Mayo. It is a sauce-heavy dish made with ingredients such as chili and chocolate, and often served with pork or chicken. "According to The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist, Sor Andrea de la Asunción is thought to have prepared it for don Tomás Antonio de la Cerda y Aragón, the new viceroy of Spain. This dish is the ultimate combination of old and new world ingredients and cooking practices," it says in the publication. 

10. The world's largest Cinco de Mayo celebration isn't in Mexico.

That honor goes to Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles, California. The mammoth event is now in its 28th year and has the city closing down major streets to welcome hundreds of thousands of people to take part in the activities. And the event is free to attend.


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