Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the historic Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is largely celebrated in the United States, and surprisingly, only some parts of Mexico.

For many, the holiday has become an excuse to party, but in reality, the holiday brings about a time to reflect on Mexican culture and its rich traditions. It provides another viewpoint into the culture for those that may have otherwise only been exposed to caricatures and stereotype of Mexico and its citizens.

So where exactly did Cinco de Mayo originate? 

Cinco de Mayo, also known as the Battle of Puebla, originated in Puebla, Mexico. Contrary to popular belief it is not Mexico’s Independence Day, but rather one of many fights that were fought against the French Monarchy that sought to control Mexico.

The Battle of Puebla became a symbol of resistance for Mexicans because the group that fought the French troops was made up of peoples of Mestizo and Zapotec origin. They were far from well equipped trained soldiers, yet they managed to kill 1,000 French soldiers causing them to retreat in defeat.

How did it become so popular?

The battle grew in popularity as the years passed because it served as a reminder of what was possible for Mexican citizens, including those that lived across the border in the States. This was important because the fight against the French continued for many years and it gave Mexicans hope that they would regain full control over their country one day. Eventually, Cinco de Mayo was declared an official national holiday in June 1867 by then-president Juarez.

The majority of Mexico observes the holiday as one of many 3-day weekends, however, Puebla holds a large annual celebration to commemorate the historic battle with parades and reenactments. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become very popular, from small towns to major cities taking part in celebrations. Its popularity grew as Chicano’s in the 1940s recognized the day as a way of celebrating their roots. Today, you can find many Mexican American communities commemorating the victory with street fairs that include parades, traditional dancing, music, and most importantly food.

The celebration has taken on a new life as people from all walks of life join in on the festivities and learn about what makes the Mexican culture and traditions so great.

How do I celebrate?

Times are strange right now, but don’t let that stop you from being festive. Here are a few things you can do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and bring joy into your home:

•Order Mexican food from a local restaurant, you’ll be supporting the local economy and relishing a delicious dish, it’s a win-win.

•Mix your favorite Margarita, make it a classic, or try one of the many variations out there.

•Learn how to say more than “hola” and “gracias” and practice your Spanish. Apps like Duolingo are perfect for this, as well as listening to Spanish music or watching a television show in Spanish.

•Hold a virtual Cinco de Mayo party with friends and family. Take turns creating your perfect Tequila drink, playing games, and catching up.