1. Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. Sorry friends, Cinco de Mayo is NOT the Mexican version of the Fourth of July. Mexican Independence Day is actually celebrated on September 16. Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the infamous Battle of Puebla — the unlikely victory by the Mexican army over the French during the Franco-Mexican War (1861–1867). In a nutshell, the Mexicans couldn’t pay their bills to different European governments and the French invaded to get their money back and take control. Although it was a relatively small victory in the war, the battle provided a major symbolic victory to the French resistance movement which Mexico eventually won in 1867.
2. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over Mexico. As mentioned above, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. As such, most Mexicans do not celebrate the holiday as it holds little cultural significance to them. It’s also not considered a federal holiday so for most Mexicans, May 5 is like any other day. However, Cinco de Mayo is a big deal in the Mexican city of Puebla where the actual battle took place and is the main “puro party” location for several weeks during the Festival Internacional 5 de Mayo. Some of the festivities include a grand parade, a reenactment of the infamous battle, and fireworks.
3. The margarita was invented for Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The phrase “Cinco de Drink-o” has become increasingly common in pop culture that many people think the famous margarita was invented specifically for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The reality is no one actually knows the origin of the margarita! There are several rumored stories of how the delicious tequila-based drink came to be. The most well-known legend is of showgirl Marjorie King, who claimed she was allergic to all liquors except tequila. Carlos “Danny” Herrera, owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, allegedly created this drink in 1938 in order to keep his customer happy and even named the drink after her — with a Spanish flair of course. Whatever the truth may be, one thing we can all agree on is that we’re so happy margaritas were invented!
4. The staple food dish for Cinco de Mayo is tacos. Drop those tacos friends — it’s not the traditional dish for celebrating Cinco de Mayo. I know it’s a tough truth to swallow. Mole poblano is actually the most consumed food during the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Puebla, Mexico. Chalupas and chiles en nogada are other traditional Mexican dishes that are enjoyed during the holiday festivities. Bottom line: Cinco de Mayo does not equal #TacoTuesday.
5. Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo only to party. So if Mexico doesn’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo, why do Mexican-Americans celebrate the holiday? Surely it must be for the booze! Yes, it may seem that way based on the marketing campaigns of beer companies such as Corona over the years. But while a strong margarita and cerveza is a nice addition, Cinco de Mayo is a way for us Mexican-Americans (myself included) to celebrate our culture and heritage. In 2014, Mexican-Americans accounted for 64 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population of 55.3 million. Some of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations are in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston (cities with heavy Mexican-American populations) and festivities include parades, mariachis, Mexican folk dancing, and traditional Mexican dishes. Cinco de Mayo is more than a drinking holiday for us — it’s a day to celebrate where we come from and show the world we are proud of our Mexican roots!