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Cinco de Mayo: The Truth Behind The National Holiday

Each May, Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, is celebrated in the U.S. Today, we’re going to review the history of the celebration, discover fun facts, and learn ways to celebrate. Ready? Let’s begin!

The History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican Independence Day. Yes, you read that correctly! One of the biggest misconceptions about Cinco de Mayo is that it’s Mexico’s independence day; rather, this day marks a different historical event; the Battle of Puebla.

The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862, and Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated ever since. The first Cinco de Mayo celebration was held on May 27, 1862, as news of the battle spread throughout the country. The following year, the celebration was held on the fifth of May, and ever since, the date stuck.

In 2005, the United States Congress officially declared observance of Cinco de Mayo, and since then, we have celebrated the holiday. 

Ten Fun Facts About Cinco de Mayo 

Here are ten fun facts about Cinco de Mayo!

  1. Only 1 in 10 individuals know that Cinco de Mayo represents the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. 
  2. 40% of Americans believe Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s Independence Day.
  3. Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico.
  4. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy of 1993 paved the way for Cinco de Mayo to become an American holiday.
  5. Sizable crowds, street festivals, live music, and dancing are all staples of celebrating this national holiday.
  6. Mole Poblano is the official dish of Cinco de Mayo.
  7. Looking for the best bash? Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston are known to hold the biggest Cinco de Mayo events across the county.
  8. Though meant to celebrate the outcome of the Battle of Puebla, we have also included celebrating Mexican culture in general. 
  9. Cinco de Mayo is not only celebrated in the U.S. but across the globe in Canada, Australia, and Japan, to name a few.
  10. Did you know 87 million pounds of avocados are purchased for Cinco de Mayo, more than any other time of the year!

Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

There are several ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but if you’re looking for inspiration here are three ways to celebrate.

Learn about Mexico

What better way to show appreciation and celebrate a holiday than to educate yourself on the day? Discover the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo and take this time to dive into Mexican culture. 

Celebrate with an Authentic Meal

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through their food. This is a great chance to make some tacos, guacamole, tamales and tostones at home. Not a big fan of cooking new cuisine? That’s okay! Head to your local Mexican restaurant to enjoy these staples. 

Get Movin’ and Groovin’

Turn up your favorite Mexican music and give it a go! Take a local flamenco or salsa class, or give it a go in your own home. Grab your friends and have a little dance party before chowing down at your local street festival. 

To learn more about the history of Cinco de Mayo, please visit the Smithsonian website here.

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