How Do Mexicans Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is a special day in Mexico, celebrated annually on May 5th to commemorate historic events that occurred on May 5th, 1862. It celebrates Mexico’s resilience and determination in the face of adversity and remains an important part of our culture and heritage.

In this article, we’ll learn more about how Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but first, we should understand what it really is.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Reenactment of the Battle of Puebla
Reenactment of the Battle of Puebla (photo credit)

Let’s start by clearing something up because Cinco de Mayo is a bit misunderstood outside of Mexico. Non-Mexican often believe it is Mexico’s independence day and equate it to our fourth of July. But that’s not the case. Mexico’s independence day is celebrated on September 16. As a matter of fact, the battle of Puebla occurred almost half a century after Mexico declared its independence from Spain.

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration that commemorates the victory of the Battle of Puebla that happened on May 5, 1862. In this battle, the Mexican army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the army of the second French empire.

This battle was particularly important because the Mexican army was young, untrained, outnumbered, and had less battle experience. Even with all those factors against them, they managed to get a very important victory to protect Mexico’s sovereignty.

The French were making an attempt at re-colonizing Mexico. Originally, they had made an alliance with the UK and Spain, but both of them decided to turn around at the last second, leaving the French to try (and fail) to invade Mexico by themselves.

As the name implies, the fight occurred near the city of Puebla, in central Mexico.

How is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico?

Cinco de Mayo festival (photo credit)

So, how do Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo? It’s a great question, and the answer varies depending on where you are in Mexico. In Puebla, the city where the battle took place, the celebration is particularly festive, with reenactments, parades, traditional music, dance performances, and of course, like in any Mexican party, plenty of food and drinks.

As for the rest of the country, while the date is acknowledged for its historical importance, it is not widely celebrated. May 5th is not considered a federal holiday, and schools and government offices remain open in most of Mexico.

Mexican families in the rest of the country do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo in any significant manner as they do on September 16th (independence day) when they all get together for traditional food, drinks, fireworks, and more.

However, a curious phenomenon has happened with Cinco de Mayo over the last couple of decades.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a new meaning as a celebration of Mexican-American culture. The holiday has grown in popularity in recent years and is celebrated in many cities across the country. Many Americans associate Cinco de Mayo with margaritas, sombreros, and tacos, but the holiday has a much deeper meaning for the Mexican-American community.

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican-American pride and identity. For many Mexican-Americans, the holiday is an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and share their culture with others. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become an important part of the country’s cultural landscape.

In conclusion, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that holds great significance for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. While it is a day to celebrate Mexican culture, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the history and struggle for freedom that the holiday commemorates.

Can Americans (or other folks) celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Yes, please! As a Mexican, let me tell you that you can feel free to celebrate any Mexican holiday in any way you want whether you are in Mexico, the US, or anywhere else in the world. We are very proud of our culture and want to share it with the world, not stop them from joining in the fun.

Some people feel wary about celebrating other culture’s holidays because it could be considered cultural appropriation or because they don’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes.

While I can’t speak for every country, rest assured that most Mexicans couldn’t care less about any of that and we are happy to share our customs, food, dress, and drinks with anyone who wants to join.

So don’t worry about it and go make some tacos and listen to mariachi music if you want next Cinco de Mayo.


  • Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) celebrates the victory of the Battle of Puebla over the French army.
  • Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day and is not widely celebrated in Mexico. However, it has become a very popular celebration in the United States where many Mexicans live.
  • Feel free to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in any way you want.