Cinco de Mayo has come around again already, and who are we to argue with a super celebration? There’s a common misconception that Cinco is tied to the Mexican Independence Day, but it actually celebrates a hard-earned win at the historic “Battle of Puebla,” a major turning point in the Franco-Mexican War of the 1860s. Outnumbered and under-supplied, the Mexican forces fended off the invading French at Puebla, marking the last European invasion ever to occur in the Americas.
As the observance of this awesome victory began to grow and change, the holiday took on a life of its own, eventually becoming a massive celebration across both Mexico and the US, where it came to honor Mexican heritage as a whole. Festivities range from parades, to battle reenactments, to heritage fests with dancing and regional foods, and even group skydiving adventures (at least that’s how they do it in Vancouver, BC). Some parties have even come to include aspects of ancient Mexican Indian culture, such as the making and partaking of atole, a spicy chocolate drink based on an original Aztec recipe.
Many other aspects of traditional Mexican culture have carried over to become a part of Cinco de Mayo as well, including sugar skull candies and face painting, which are normally reserved for Day of the Dead celebrations. Regional dress like fresh flowers and woven serapes (blankets/ponchos) is also becoming a common element, as are many customs like piñata breaking and the playing of mariachi music.
So however you celebrate, make it Mexican today, and have a Happy Cinco de Mayo.