Why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

spicy avocado sauce and assorted sauces with corn chips on wooden table, vertical, top view
by Breanne

April 3, 2023

Of course, as Americans, we have commercialized another holiday in Cinco de Mayo, which is typically mostly celebrated in the United States and Mexico. Cinco de Mayo actually comes from when the Mexican army was victorious over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. While this is an important day in Mexican history, it is not a national holiday and is celebrated more in the United States than Mexico. In the United States, we celebrate with parades, parties, and festivals. If anything, the one thing this helps with is to celebrate and learn more about another culture.

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Cinco de Mayo Food

With Mexican food, many things come to mind such as chips and salsa, tacos, nachos, and margaritas. These are classic foods as well as ones that we have Americanized so much. Bold flavors and fresh ingredients are very common in Mexican food. Some traditional foods are:

Tacos on a red plate on wood table
  • Tacos – Simple with a corn or flour tortilla filled with meat, veggies, and toppings.
  • Guacamole – Dip made with avocados, lime juice, and seasonings.
  • Enchiladas – Rolled tortillas with meat & cheese – topped with sauce and baked.
  • Tamales – Corn dough filled with meat and cheese rolled in a corn husk that’s been steamed.
  • Chile Rellenos – Roasted or fried chili peppers stuffed with cheese, meat, vegetables, then battered and fried.
  • Churros – Fried pastry dough, typically served with chocolate sauce.
  • Quesadillas – Tortillas filled with cheese and other ingredients then grilled or fried.
  • Salsa – Sauce base of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices served with chips.
  • Fajitas – Grilled meat and vegetables served with tortillas, salsa, and toppings.
  • Horchata – Sweet milky drink made from rice, cinnamon, and sugar.
  • Nachos – Tortilla chips topped with cheese, beans, meats, and other ingredients.

These are just a few examples of the many delicious and flavorful foods that are part of traditional Mexican cuisine.

Famous Mexican People and Places

There are many famous people and places in Mexico history and culture.

Famous Mexican People

  • Cesar Chavez – Labor leader and civil rights activist who fought for farm workers. The Who Was Books are great and there is one for Cesar Chavez.
  • Frida Kahlo – Renowned artist for self-portraits and depiction of Mexican culture.
  • Salma Hayek – Actress who starred in many movies and TV shows in US and Mexico.
  • Carols Santana – Musician and guitarist known for his fusion of rock, blues, and Latin music.
Ruins of Teotihuacan, Mexico, pyramid, Aztec civilization.
Aztec Ruins, Mexico

Famous Mexican Places

  • Mexico City – Capital of Mexico and largest city in the world for culture and history.
  • Puerto Vallarta – Known for beach and nightlife.
  • Teotihuacan – Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city located near Mexico City know for pyramids and other wonders.
  • Tulum – Costal town known for Mayan Ruins and beaches.

Some common Mexican Words

  • Hola = Hello
  • Adiós = Goodbye
  • Gracias = Thank you
  • Por favor = Please
  • Cómo estás = How are you?
  • Bien = Good
  • Mal = Bad
  • Mucho gusto = Nice to meet you
  • Sí = Yes
  • No = No
  • Salud = Cheers

These are some common words and phrases in Mexico and about all I remember from three years of Spanish. As with any cultures and dialects, accents might be different based on regions.

Footsteps in the beach of Cabo San Lucas beach, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas

Popular Mexican Traditions and Holidays

Of course we have Cinco de Mayo as that is the one we are talking about here. But there are many other holidays and traditions celebrated in Mexican culture.

  • Cinco de Mayo – Celebrated on May 5th.
  • Día de los Muertos – Also known as Day of the Dead, this is probably the next most known holiday in America for Mexico. It is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd and is a time to remember and honor deceased loved ones. The Day of the Dead is celebrated with sugar skulls, colorful altars, and other traditions. Many might know some of this from Coco, a well known film from Pixar.
  • Las Posadas – Tradition leading up to Christmas Eve, it takes place the nine days leading up to Christmas in which people reenact Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging and the birth of Jesus with procession, singing, and piñatas.
  • Independence Day – September 16th holiday that marks the beginning of Mexican War from Spain in 1810. Parades, fireworks, and other celebrations mark this celebration.
  • La Quinceañera – Traditional celebration a girl’s 15th birthday which includes a religious ceremony, party, and a special dress and her transition from childhood to womanhood.
  • Day of Candelaria – Celebrated on February 2nd and marks the end of the Christmas season and baby Jesus being presented at the temple. Candles and tamales mark this celebration.

There are just a few examples of many rich traditions and holidays that are celebrated in Mexico.

View of the Nevado de Toluca, inactive volcano of Mexico.
Nevado de Toluca, inactive volcano

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

No matter how you are celebrating Cinco de Mayo or learning about the history and culture of Mexico you can always play a game like Lotería aka BINGO. Here is a taco themed one. This is also this fun taco educational pack. Decorate with bright colorful colors, piñatas, and play and dance to music like the salsa or the cha-cha. Eat some Mexican foods.

Get creative and have fun celebrating this festive holiday with your friends and family!

Mexican Tacos on Pinterest Pin with Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Traditions in neon yellow, pinks, and greens

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