About Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is considered a day of great importance in Mexico as it marks the day in 1862 when President Benito Juarez sent troops to face an invading French army that was marching toward Mexico City.
This annual celebration commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862.
The battle took place as the French attempted to carve out a new empire in Mexican territory, which helped to slow down the invading force’s advance to Mexico City.
The incident saw the French lose more than 500 soldiers, with the Mexican force losing less than 100 men. The battle took place under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza and saw a smaller Mexican force succeed against a larger French force. General Zaragoza died months after the battle due to illness.
A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated the Mexican army at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.
In addition to its importance in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is significant to many Americans.
In fact, the United States celebrates Cinco de Mayo on a much larger scale than Mexico, with parades, battle re-enactments, mariachi music, traditional foods, piñatas and fireworks mark the day. Though for many years Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the US inaccurately promoted Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day.
Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate freedom and liberty, and although Mexican citizens feel very proud of the meaning of Cinco de Mayo it is not a national holiday in Mexico, but it is a school holiday and an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the mentioned battle took place.
Did you know?
- In 2013, Americans spent more than $600 million on beer for Cinco de Mayo, according to Nielsen.
- About 36.6 million people of Mexican origin lived in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. This includes immigrants from Mexico and people who can trace their heritage back to Mexico.
- In 2017, the Corona beer company lit up New York City’s famous Times Square Ball to resemble a lime wedge and hosted a ‘Lime Drop’ to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
- Some cities around the country, including Denver, Colo. and Chandler, Ariz., hold an annual Chihuahua Race in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
- In 2005, Congress declared Cinco de Mayo an official U.S. holiday.
- Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in a few other places around the world, including Brisbane, Australia, Malta and the Cayman Islands.
- Americans drink an average of 3.5 alcoholic beverages each on Cinco de Mayo, according to a survey from Alcohol.org.
- Americans drink more tequila than any other country, according to the drinks market analysis firm IWSR.
- Cinco de Mayo became a ‘drinking’ holiday in the U.S. in the 1980s, when beer companies targeted the Spanish-speaking population in marketing campaigns, according to Time.
- There has been a backlash against Cinco de Mayo celebrations among some Latino communities in the U.S., who object to the holiday’s commercialism and portrayal of Mexican stereotypes, according to the New York Times.
- In the past, Americans have consumed more than 80 million pounds of avocados on Cinco De Mayo.
- There are about 54,000 Mexican restaurants in the U.S.
- Americans spend about $2.9 billion on margaritas every year.
- Los Angeles’s annual Cinco de Mayo celebration is bigger than the one that takes place in Puebla, Mexico, where the holiday originated.
- Forget the tacos: one of the most popular traditional dishes in Mexico for Cinco de Mayo is mole poblano, a rich sauce made from chocolate and chilis.
- The colors traditionally associated with Cinco de Mayo are red, white and green, reflecting the colors of the Mexican flag.
- A lot of “Mexican” foods we eat in the U.S. aren’t actually an authentic part of Mexican cuisine. Dishes like hard-shell tacos, nachos, and burritos, are considered “Tex-Mex” creations.
- President Roosevelt helped popularize Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the U.S. with his 1933 Good Neighbor Policy, which he enacted to improve relations with Central and South American countries.
- On Cinco de Mayo, a Hard Rock Cafe in the Cayman Islands hosts an annual air guitar competition.
- In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is known as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla).
- The Battle of Puebla is re-enacted every year in Mexico City.
- The city of Longmont, Colo., celebrates Cinco de Mayo with a Chihuahua beauty contest, in which they crown a King and Queen Chihuahua.
- Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken called Mexico’s Independence Day, but that falls on Sept. 16.