Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration on May 5th, (hence ‘Cinco de Mayo’ which is Spanish for the “fifth of May”). This holiday is celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, specifically in the state of Puebla where it is called “El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla” (meaning ‘The Day of the Battle of Puebla’). The whole idea behind Cinco de Mayo is to commemorate Mexican heritage and pride and also to honor the cause of freedom during the first years of the American Civil War.
In Puebla, May 5th is a day to celebrate Mexico’s unlikely triumph over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. This victory was so prominent because even though the Mexicans were vastly out numbered and poorly supplied, they won! The battle marked the last time a country in the Americans was invaded by a European military force. Common misconception: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, although many people think so. Their actual independence day is observed on September 16th and was declared almost 50 years before the Battle of Puebla.
Cinco de Mayo started in the United States in 2005 when the President issued a proclamation upon the people to observe May 5th as Cinco de Mayo and to honor the day with appropriate ceremonies, activities and festivities. In Mexico some traditions include military parades, festive events, and reenactments of the victorious, symbolic battle. Other places outside of the United States also celebrate this day in their own ways. In Vancouver, Canada, they hold a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event and in the Cayman Islands, they have an annual air guitar competition on the 5th. Other places may participate by drinking Mexican beer, and lots of it!
How are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Mexican dancing, parades, street festivals, parties and traditional food such as tacos and mole poblano (Mexico’s National food dish) are just a few ways to enjoy yourself this holiday. Fun fact: Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles hold some of the biggest and best-known Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
What are you going to wear? Well since Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday, you can’t go wrong with traditional Mexican colors. Option one: dig out those shades of reds, greens and whites (the colors of the country’s flag). Option two: go bright! Girls, try a colorful ankle-length skirt with a white blouse and maybe even a sombrero. Boys, keep it simple with a classic shirt, a nice pair of loose fitting pants and maybe even a fake mustache! If you really want to go all out, you could impersonate one of Mexico’s famous historical figures like Frida Kahlo or Pancho Villa!
Now let’s talk accessories! Besides clothes, you can always spice your outfit up with your shoes. Cowboy boots or a pair of leather sandals will go perfect with your ensemble. How about the hair? Girls can put their hair up in a bun with a piece of ribbon or a colored flowed behind the ear. Last but not least, jewelry in particular is something that can make or break your outfit. Go for large, colorful, festive jewelry. Gold dangle earrings or beaded necklaces and bracelets are perfect for this holiday. If you want to go above and beyond, you could wear Mexican flag jewelry to really show your support!
You don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate this holiday! Although it is a day to celebrate heritage, pride and unity, it doesn’t hurt to add in the mariachi music, Mexican dancing and brightly colored costumes! Cinco de Mayo; the perfect day to get ‘caliente’ and have some fun for a good reason.