Cinco de Mayo history, food and celebrations: Find out more about this popular Mexican holiday

Performers at the US White House celebration o...

Performers at the US White House celebration of Cinco de Mayo May 4, 2007 

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that has come to be synonymous in America with margaritas, Mexican food and an all around good time. But how much do you actually know about Cinco de Mayo history? For instance, what does Cinco de Mayo commemorate? If you’re not certain, we’ve got you covered. Check out some of these fun facts about this spring date, discover popular Cinco de Mayo celebrations and learn how to make some authentic Mexican fare. ¡salud!

Five facts about Cinco de Mayo

True, Cinco de Mayo is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t brush up on your trivia and knowledge for next year. Here are 5 fun facts about this May holiday:

  1. Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of El Día de la Batalla de Puebla or The Day of the Battle of Puebla — it does not commemorate Mexico’s Independence (this is on September 16).
  2. This date is more popular in America than it is in Mexico–in fact, Cinco de Mayo is “a regional, not federal, holiday” according to a article on May 05, 2013, “Five Things You Need to Know About Cinco de Mayo.”
  3. In America, celebrations range from Chihuahua races in Chandler, Arizona, to the Festival de Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles–in Mexico, people celebrate by reenacting the famous battle against Napoleon III in 1862. You can view “Cinco De Mayo History Brought to Life” on USA Today‘s website.
  4. Margaritas weren’t around on the original Cinco de Mayo–this popular Mexican drink wasn’t invented until sometime in the early-to-mid 20th century.
  5. The exact translation of Cinco de Mayo is “five of May”–“quinto” is actually the Spanish word for “fifth.”

Need more fun facts about Cinco de Mayo? Check out‘s “11 facts you need to know about Cinco de Mayo,” posted on May 05, 2013, by Makenzie Bowker.


Across the United States, a number of cities and towns celebrated Mexican American heritage with food, dancing, music and more. Here is only a sampling of the festivals that took place over the May 05 weekend:

  • Dallas, Texas, held a parade and festival filled with authentic food, drink, music and a number of free events — there was even a Little Miss Cinco de Mayo pageant. The Dallas Morning News offers more detailed information about this year’s events in “Your guide to Cinco de Mayo festivities in Dallas for 2013.”
  • San Diego, California, offered three full days of fun and festivities in the “2013 Old Town Fiesta Cinco de Mayo,” where stages featured mariachi bands and flamenco music.
  • Saint Paul, Minnesota, got into the spirit of things with “Cinco De Mayo ’13,” a festival filled with family events and live shows.

If you weren’t able to attend a celebration this year, try to put one on your to-do list for next year. Better yet, inquire at your campus to find out about events your college might sponsor and get involved.

Let’s eat!

Even if you can’t attend a Cinco de Mayo festival, you can still get into the spirit of the day by concocting your own Mexican dishes and drinks if you are 21+. There are a number of websites out there that can help you create quick, tasty, homemade salsa in just a few minutes. For instance, the food network has an entire section dedicated to Cinco de Mayo. From “Quick and Easy Mexican Recipes” to “10 Cinco de Mayo Margaritas,” you’ll be creating traditional dishes and drinks in no time. The best part? You have an entire year to perfect your cooking!

So, what did you do for Cinco de Mayo? If you didn’t do anything, let us know what you hope to do next year!

To learn more about Mexico and this country’s history, visit the Mexican History page on

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