Happy Cinco de Mayo! We’re looking into some common questions people ask about the Cinco de Mayo, including ‘What is Cinco de Mayo?’ and ‘What’s the history of Cinco de Mayo?’ and ‘Cinco de Mayo facts.’
Many people in the U.S. associate Cinco de Mayo with margaritas, tacos and partying, but the day has more meaningful origins in Mexican history. It commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when the Mexican army secured victory over France during the Second Franco-Mexican War.
What is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated on May 5 in parts of Mexico and the United States. The day commemorates the victory of the outnumbered Mexican army over the French army at the 1862 Battle of Puebla during the Second Franco-Mexican War. Contrary to popular opinion, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexico’s independence. The actual Mexican Independence Day falls on Sept. 16 and celebrates the ‘Cry of Dolores’, the call to arms that launched the Mexican War of Independence.
Today in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is actually a relatively minor holiday, according to History.com. It’s mainly celebrated in the state of Puebla, where the battle occurred, but other parts of the country do not typically mark the day in any major way.
In the United States, on the other hand, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a more widespread celebration of Mexican culture and traditions. Cities around the U.S. celebrate the holiday with events highlighting traditional Mexican dancing, music and cuisine.
When is Cinco de Mayo?
“Cinco de Mayo” means “Fifth of May” in Spanish. This year, the holiday falls on Thursday, May 5, 2022.
Cinco de Mayo History
The Battle of Puebla, commemorated by Cinco de Mayo, has come to symbolize Mexican resistance to foreign invasion.
In 1862, French troops attempted to establish a monarchy in Mexico to gain influence in North America. The 6,000 French troops sent by Napoleon III outnumbered the ragtag army of Mexicans led by General Ignacio Zaragoza. However, the Mexican troops defeated the French troops and forced them to retreat.
The Battle of Puebla was not a major tactical victory during the war, but it boosted morale and became a symbol of Mexicans’ cultural pride, courage, and resilience.
25 Cinco de Mayo Facts
2. Not every Mexican state celebrates Cinco de Mayo.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Some cities around the country, including Denver, Colo. and Chandler, Ariz., hold an annual Chihuahua Race in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
6. In 2005, Congress declared Cinco de Mayo an official U.S. holiday.
7. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in a few other places around the world, including Brisbane, Australia, Malta and the Cayman Islands.
8. Americans drink an average of 3.5 alcoholic beverages each on Cinco de Mayo, according to a survey from Alcohol.org.
9. Americans drink more tequila than any other country, according to the drinks market analysis firm IWSR.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. In the past, Americans have consumed more than 80 million pounds of avocados on Cinco De Mayo.
13. There are about 54,000 Mexican restaurants in the U.S.
14. Americans spend about $2.9 billion on margaritas every year.
15. Los Angeles’s annual Cinco de Mayo celebration is bigger than the one that takes place in Puebla, Mexico, where the holiday originated.
16. 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.
17. The colors traditionally associated with Cinco de Mayo are red, white and green, reflecting the colors of the Mexican flag.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. On Cinco de Mayo, a Hard Rock Cafe in the Cayman Islands hosts an annual air guitar competition.
21. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is known as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla).
22. The Battle of Puebla is re-enacted every year in Mexico City.
23. The city of Longmont, Colo., celebrates Cinco de Mayo with a Chihuahua beauty contest, in which they crown a King and Queen Chihuahua.
24. Many 2020 Cinco de Mayo celebrations have been canceled or transformed into virtual gatherings due to the pandemic.
25. Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken called Mexico’s Independence Day, but that falls on Sept. 16.