Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, has come to be known for parties and celebrations full of Mexican food, culture, and entertainment. But what actually is this holiday all about? You’ll be surprised to find out the true reason for all of the wonderful festivities.
10. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in the Franco-Mexican war at the battle of Puebla, not Mexican Independence Day. The battle occurred on May 5, 1862. A small group of Mexican solders were able to defeat a large French army against all odds on this day. Mexican Independence Day is actually on September 16th.
9. The Day of the Battle of Puebla
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is referred to as Día de la Battalia de Puebla, or the day of the battle of Puebla. Every year on May 5th in Puebla, Veracruz, Mexico, the day is marked with speeches from politicians and a re-enactment of the miraculous battle.
8. American popularity
The battle of Peubla occurred during the same time as the U.S. Civil War. Mexicans in the United States at this time took pride in the victory of their countrymen and claimed it as their own. Since then, Americans have created several Cinco de Mayo traditions including festivals, parades, and mariachi performances.
7. Hispanic population in the USA
Most recent census information estimates that there are over 325 million people living in the US. Of that, it is estimated that over 33 million of those living in the United States have Mexican heritage.
6. Largest Cinco de Mayo festival
Los Angeles, California is home to the largest and most concentrated population of people of Mexican origin. So it should be no surprise that Los Angeles is home to the largest Cinco de Mayo festival each year.
5. Avocado heaven
Go to any Mexican food establishment, from gourmet to food truck, and you’re almost guaranteed to find one prominent menu item. Guacamole. Guacamole is a hugely popular dish originating from Mexico. The California Avocado Commission estimates that more than 87.3 million pounds of avocados are consumed by Americans on Cinco De Mayo each year. That’s a whole lot of guacamole!
Another prominent item on the menu for Cinco de Mayo celebrations is the margarita. With so many varieties and flavors, there’s a margarita for everyone. Tequila, the margarita’s signature ingredient, comes from the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Tequila is host to fields of agave plants, which is the main ingredient in tequila. It’s no surprise that margarita sales soar on Cinco de Mayo.
3. Celebrating around the world
Cinco de Mayo isn’t just celebrated in the US and Mexico! Many other countries participate in various ways of honoring this special day. In Sydney, Australia, the Hard Rock Cafe is host the the annual Margarita Showdown, where teams compete to make the best margarita. And just a bit more daring, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada residents celebrate Cinco de Mayo by participating in a skydiving event. This event is followed by eating tacos, drinking margaritas, and a mustache contest.
According to US Census data in 2012, there were over 350 tortilla factories in the US. Great news for taco lovers celebrating Cinco de Mayo!
1. Popularity in Mexico
Cinco de Mayo is not a federally recognized holiday in Mexico. In fact, it is not widely celebrated outside of Puebla.
Share these 10 fast facts at any Cinco de Mayo celebration and you’ll surely be the hit of the party. And while you’re enjoying the guacamole, tacos, and margaritas, don’t forget to honor those brave soldiers who defeated the French in Puebla, Veracruz, Mexico.