What is Cinco de Mayo? Meaning explained

THE CINCO de Mayo holiday is celebrated on May 5 every year with food, dancing, and traditional parades.

The holiday comes from Mexico and has been celebrated in the US since 1863.

 Cinco de Mayo celebrations will take place on Thursday, May 5, 2022


Cinco de Mayo celebrations will take place on Thursday, May 5, 2022Credit: Alamy

What is the meaning of Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration recognizing the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

The battle, which took place as the French attempted to carve out a new empire in Mexican territory, helped slow down the invading force’s advance on Mexico City.

The Battle of Puebla lasted from daybreak until early evening and forced the French to retreat after they lost nearly 500 soldiers while the Mexican force lost fewer than 100 men.

Cinco de Mayo was first celebrated in California in 1863 during the Civil War as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. However, the holiday wasn’t fully recognized in the US until the 1960s when Chicano activists raised awareness and it became a national holiday.

Despite the celebrations in the US, Cinco de Mayo isn’t as widely celebrated in Mexico. It is not a bank holiday, is typically treated as any other day, and is primarily celebrated in Puebla where the battle took place.

How is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico v. the US?

Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico as banks and businesses remain open but it is celebrated in Puebla, the site of the French-Mexican war.

Schools are closed and the region celebrates with recreations of the Battle of Puebla and military parades which typically hosts about 20k attendees. The parade includes Mariachi bands, dancing, and fireworks.

In the US, Cinco de Mayo has become a holiday to commemorate Mexican culture and has become one of the top five drinking holidays in the country alongside the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July.

The holiday is also celebrated with Mexican-inspired food including tacos, enchiladas, and chile rellenos.

 Cinco de Mayo would usually be marked by parades and parties


Cinco de Mayo would usually be marked by parades and partiesCredit: Alamy

Where are the best places to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Here are the top five cities to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in 2022, according to Hopper Media:

  1. San Antonio, Texas: This is the number one spot to celebrate in the US at the Historic Market Square in la Villita where there are live entertainers and families who dress in festive clothes and are surrounded by Mexican culture with art and food. Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated with museums that display Mexican heritage and stalls and vendors selling crafts and food.
  2. Phoenix, Arizona: The Cinco de Mayo festival in Phoenix is the largest multicultural celebration in the state with live music, carnival rides, Chihuahua Races, and the crowning of the festival’s King and Queen.
  3. Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles plays host to one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the world, but the big festival falls, not on the holiday, but on the last Sunday of April. Celebrations kick off with a parade that draws in approximately 500k people and travels along 24 square blocks.
  4. Denver, Colorado: The Celebrate Culture Festival in Denver brings in more than 400k attendees and has 350 food vendors, Mariachi, Cumba, and Salsa dancing, a taco eating contest, and chihuahua races.
  5. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago is holding its three-day festival for the fifth year in Little Village in the downtown area of the city. Celebrations kick off with a parade of dancers and bands while vendors stand by with food and novelty items. Restaurants in the area play host to the festivities with the Chicago pub crawl as locations including  Nuevo Leon, Cuernavaca, Tacos Palas, and Taqueria La Justicia.

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