Here's How To Celebrate Cinco de Mayo -- For Real!!
Cinco de Mayo has become a popular holiday in the United States -- but not many Americans know its true origins! And because of that, we fall into "tacos and tequila" stereotypes that don't pay homage to the holiday's cultural history.
You know us -- the Bomber team loves a good margarita. However, until we started digging into the history of the holiday, there was a lot we didn't know about Cinco de Mayo!
Celebrating Mexican culture, food, and spirit is a wonderful way to get in on Cinco de Mayo festivities -- and you can combine your festive faves with a new appreciation for Mexican culture and history. It's time to kick off the Cinco de Mayo fiesta -- so let's explore what that really means!
What is Cinco de Mayo?
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.
Celebrated on the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo honors the Mexican Army's victory over the French at the 1862 Battle of Puebla -- an important victory in the Franco-Mexican war. Gathered in defense of the city of Puebla de Los Angeles, the Mexican forces were heavily outnumbered by the French. But after a long day's fighting, the French suffered heavy losses and eventually retreated.
What's interesting here is that the Battle of Puebla was not much of a strategic victory -- Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in central Mexico, held little strategic significance in the "big picture" of the war.
However, it was a key victory in the hearts of the Mexican people: The Battle of Puebla showed that the Mexican army really could stand up against a superpower like the French.
How is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico?
Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo is not as big of a party in Mexico as it is in the United States. Today, Mexican Cinco de Mayo celebrations mainly take place in the state of Puebla (where the battle took place). While other states observe the holiday, it's not considered a federal event -- or even that big of a deal!
In Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with military parades, delicious food, and recreations of the famous battle of Puebla.
In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has grown to become a celebration of Mexican culture, particularly Mexican-American culture.
Why is Cinco de Mayo important to Mexican-American culture?
Remember the 1960s? That time of cultural and social upheaval was marked by numerous cultural revolutions -- and one of these was a boost of awareness of the holiday led by Chicano activists.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo resonated with activists likely because of the roots of the Battle of Puebla -- indigenous cultures standing up against European invaders. It's understandable why this holiday resonated so much with Mexican-American families rediscovering and honoring their culture.
Today, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican history and culture, particularly in American cities -- like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston -- with large Mexican-American populations. We celebrate with a huge party: mariachi music, parades, Mexican folk dancing, and those wonderful tacos.
How can I show my spirit and support for Cinco de Mayo?
The main distinction to make here in the states is that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It's a way to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture, and the best way to get in on the fun is to celebrate all the things you love about Mexican culture while staying educated on the real roots of the holiday.
While you're busting out the tacos and tequila, take the time to reach out to Mexican-American families in your social circles. Ask questions -- listen to stories of their ancestors and the culture of the Mexico of the past and the present.
The best way to celebrate a culture is to work to make yourself understand. By educating yourself on the origins of the holiday -- and the wonderful culture of our neighbors to the south -- you can have the best Cinco de Mayo yet.
Now that you've got the scoop on the real Cinco de Mayo, how are you celebrating? Join our festivities on Instagram @bombereyewear and be sure to show off where your Bombers are taking you next!
Hope you brought extra guac!