It's more than just tacos and margs.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a day filled with tacos and margaritas-- food and celebrating our Mexican heritage is what we’re all about! However, the origins of this festive holiday may come as a surprise to those outside of Mexico. In the spirit of the day of festivity, we’re sharing a few a facts that can help all of us better understand what the 5th of May is truly about and how it became a day of such celebration.
1. Cinco de Mayo is not Independence Day in Mexico.
Although the two dates are often confused for one another by people living outside of Mexico, the country actually celebrates its independence on September 16th. El Dia de la Independencia is without a doubt, the most important day of celebration for Mexico. So if you think the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the U.S. are a party, imagine that level of celebration x10 in Mexico for el Dia de la Independencia.
2. Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Battle of Puebla.
Now that you know that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s equivalent of the fourth of July, it’s time to learn the significance behind the day of celebration. This holiday remembers and celebrates the day of the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla that took place in the south-central Mexican state of Puebla, during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). The army’s win over France at Puebla was so important for the country because at the time the Mexican army was very underprepared to go against France’s military. Not only did they not have proper training or equipment, but they were greatly outnumbered by the disciplined and well-armed French military force. Although the victory at Puebla was not the biggest win in the war against France, the date is symbolic in Mexican history because it provided a sense of unity and pride among the people of Mexico. And speaking of Puebla, Mexico, this also happens to be the birthplace of mole poblano (keep reading for a bonus fact about this importance of the mole poblano).
3. Cinco de Mayo is a bigger celebration in the United States, than in Mexico.
With all the commotion that comes with May 5th here in the U.S., it’s understandable to think that Cinco de Mayo is also the ultimate day of cultural celebration all throughout Mexico. However, this is far from the case. While Mexicans do celebrate the day by getting together with family, it is not observed as a federal holiday. Believe it or not, Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico-- with the exception of the city of Puebla (where the battle took place) where it is celebrated with parades, reenactments, and plenty of GOOD FOOD. On the contrary, the holiday has become a major celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States complete with festivals, parades, parties, and plenty of tequila.
4. President Franklin Roosevelt and Beer Companies are both to thank for the popularity of the holiday in the U.S.
So how exactly did the holiday become so popular in the United States? Well, the holiday originally began to gain its popularity in the United States after President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the “Good Neighbor Policy” in hopes to improve relations with and reach out to Latin America. In the 1960s and 1970s, Cinco de Mayo gained even more popularity as the holiday became associated with the Chicano rights movement (especially in California) as Chicano activists welcomed the holiday as a way to celebrate Mexican-American culture in the U.S. The holiday’s popularity grew even more in the 1980s when beer companies began executing successful Cinco de Mayo marketing campaigns that linked their products to the holiday festivities.
5. Cinco de Mayo is a HUGE day for food.
Food is already a major part of Mexican culture, so it may seem like a no-brainer that a ton of food is consumed on Cinco de Mayo-- but have you ever really stopped to put into perspective how much Mexican food is consumed in the U.S. alone on that day?
No doubt the United States loves avocado and anything that includes the fruit in some shape or form. Well, turns out people take their love for avocados to the next level on Cinco de Mayo, making it the largest avocado consumption day of the year in the U.S. Last year, the California Avocado Commision reported that an estimated 87 millions pounds of avocados would be purchased for the holiday festivities-- that’s a lot of guacamole.
This one make come as a surprise. The traditional Cinco de Mayo dish is not the taco-- it’s the mole poblano! As mentioned in our fact above, Puebla, Mexico is the origin of this delicious dish. Naturally, it has become the main item served in the state on the day of celebration.
And of course, no one can forget the drink of choice to celebrate the holiday: margaritas! According to Forbes, margarita consumption makes up 14% of American cocktail spending on this day holiday. This means that Americans spend about $2.9 billion dollars on margaritas alone every Cinco de Mayo. And on that note we leave you with our own take of a margarita, or as we like to call it, a Salsarita.
Now that you’ve read through these 5 facts, you’ll be able to impress your friends with a little Cinco de Mayo background as you’re celebrating with a round of margaritas and tacos!