Cinco de Mayo!

With Cinco de Mayo coming just around the corner, what things come to mind? Margaritas, guacamole, and sombreros? For most Americans, that is the correct answer. Why is it that Americans tend to celebrate Cinco de Mayo so much more than our neighbors down south? While we as Americans mark the date for parties and celebration, Mexico has much different traditions.

Many believe that May 5th represents the Mexican equivalent of Independence Day, which is not entirely accurate. Cinco de Mayo represents the day that Mexico was able to claim an unexpected victory over France during the French Intervention in 1862, Puebla, Mexico under the leadership of Ignacio Zaragoza. This marks such an important victory because of how powerful the French army had been during this time.

This victory not only had a major impact on Mexican history, but is also largely recognized by United States as an important date in history. During this battle, just across the border was the Civil War, in which the Confederacy relied heavily on the help of French forces. Due to this extraordinary victory by Mexico, the French were halted in helping the Confederacy, in which some historians believe may have helped the Union greatly, possibly altering the result of the Civil War. For this reason many Americans recognize this as a U.S. holiday, even making it a national holiday in 2005.

What makes Cinco de Mayo different in the U.S. in comparison to Mexico is the way that the holiday is celebrated. While we think of food, music and drinks, celebration in Mexico is quite different. The celebration in all parts of Mexico is not as large as what it has become in America, the largest of the celebrations in the country takes place in the city of Puebla, Mexico where the actual battle had taken place. Celebrations in Mexico often consist of parades and battle re-enactments, especially in Puebla.

The United States has ventured far away from the Mexican way of celebrating the holiday. Cinco de Mayo in the States has taken its own form. This holiday is known for partying, food and tequila. In fact, the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration does not even take place in Mexico, but in Los Angeles with the Festival de Fiesta Broadway. According to, Americans consume up to 81 million avocados on Cinco de Mayo! The U.S. has continued to add new traditions to this holiday that is originally meant to be a Mexican holiday. These new traditions even include ridiculous additions of celebration including Chihuahua races in Chandler, Arizona. This just adds to how much America has recreated a once Mexican holiday and turned it into its own moderation of an old holiday.


This entry was posted in Culture.