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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Smith

All About Cinco de Mayo

There are many celebraciones (celebrations) that occur in the month of May: Asian American heritage month, Mothers’ Day, and Memorial day to name a few. However, one that also is quite famous is Cinco de Mayo, or the “Fifth of May” when translated. Cinco de Mayo is a cultural festividad (festivity) mainly observed by those of Mexican heritage. The holiday’s origins are said to have arisen in America after Latino Americans heard the news of French defeat. However, because of America’s melting pot and Mexico’s proximity to the United States, the celebration often varies significantly.


Have you ever wondered about the differences in Cinco de Mayo celebrations? Here at ReDefiners World Languages, today we will be discussing some of the most common traditions of Cinco de Mayo, and some celebration vocabulario (vocabulary) you can apply to your everyday!


Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive article on all Cinco de Mayo celebrations. If you know of others that may have been missed, please feel free to share your knowledge in the comments!


 

What is Cinco de Mayo?

To better understand Cinco de Mayo, we must analyze the historical context that has contributed to the holiday’s significance.


One, it’s important to know that Cinco de Mayo is not the same as El Día de la Independencia de México (Mexican Independence day) which is instead observed on Septiembre (September) 16. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated as a way to commemorate the Mexican defeat of French forces in la Batalla de Puebla (the Battle of Puebla) in 1862. This is why Cinco de Mayo is so important: it is a symbolism of perseverance, a civil rights victory, and an embodiment of pride for one's country.



This image is from Encyclopedia Britannica. For more information, please visit https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Puebla/images-videos#Images.


Cinco de Mayo’s historia (history) is a reminder that the celebration is not just a day for food and festivities, but it holds a significant historical presence in our global history. That being said, Cinco de Mayo has many traditions and festivities that, when appropriately commemorated, can make for good fun!


Cinco de Mayo: Traditions and Festivities

Cinco de Mayo is a very fun and culture-filled holiday with lots to do. Let’s learn a bit more of the divertido (fun) activities that take place during this day!


1. Reenactments of Batalla de Puebla

In Puebla, the city where the Battle of Puebla occurred, many participate in a reenactment of the actual battle. People get together and dress up in costumes to represent battle participants. This reenactment usually takes place accompanied by a parade. Actors and participants in these reenactments work hard to create formations to perform in the main parade.




This image is from the New York Times. For more information, please visit https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/05/business/cinco-de-mayo-facts-history.html


2. La Parada (The Parade)

Okay, this is the best part. Cinco de Mayo parades are colorful, exciting, and fun! Besides the Battle of Puebla reenactment, parade goers are able to witness the embodiment of prideful Mexican culture. Of the most famous are the dances and music. Some include traditional folk dances and music to commemorate the victory in 1862. To accompany this, many performers wear vibrant clothing. Take a look at the color range below!



This image is from Parents. For more information, please visit https://www.parents.com/fun/parties/special-occasions/fun-facts-about-cinco-de-mayo/


3. La Comida (The Food)

To better understand a holiday and the culture from which it originated, you must know some of the best dishes—in my opinion, at least. A holiday is best celebrated when there are not only traditions to share, but wonderful feelings cultivated by delicious foods.


Cinco de Mayo is best characterized in Mole Poblano. La receta (the recipe) is fácil (easy). Although everyone will have their own way of making it, Mole Poblano is typically made with chicken, many different pepper variations, seasonings, and sometimes chocolate! Doesn’t it look delicious?!


But wait, there is more! If you want to be able to view the Cinco de Mayo parade (post-pandemic, of course) while trying a delicious antojito (street food snack), consider trying Chalupas. Notorious for their presence in the street markets of Puebla, Chalupas are one of the best dishes to enjoy during the Cinco de Mayo holiday. They are often made with tortillas, vegetables, meat, and different types of mole! It does not stop there either, they are colorful too!



This image is from the Universidad de Oriente. For more information, please visit https://www.uo.edu.mx/blog/el-origen-del-mole-poblano.

 

¡Que lo Pases Bien (Have Fun)!

Now that you know a bit more about Cinco de Mayo you will be able to better understand and celebrate the holiday. To better equip yourself for this Cinco de Mayo, let us review our vocabulary once more!


  • Cinco de Mayo”: the Fifth of May; a celebration commemorating Mexican victory in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

  • Festividad”: festivity.

  • Vocabulario”: vocabulary, what we are learning about now!

  • El Día de la Independencia de México”: Mexican Independence Day; celebrated every September 16th.

  • Septiembre”: September.

  • La Batalla de Puebla”: the Battle of Puebla (in 1862).

  • Historia”: history.

  • Divertido”: fun!

  • Parada”: a parade.

  • La Comida”: food.

  • Mole Poblano”: a traditional dish typically made with tomatoes (tomates), peppers (pimientos), chicken (pollo), and other ingredients.

  • Receta”: recipe.

  • Fácil”: easy.

  • Antojito”: a street food snack (merienda).

  • Chalupas”: a famous type of antojito made with tortillas, different types of mole, and more!

  • ¡Que lo pases bien!”: have fun!


Using everything you have learned in this article, we hope you will have a fun, cultural experience. ¡Que lo pases bien!


 

Are you interested in learning more about other cultural holidays, their history, and vocabulary you can use to celebrate? Consider signing up for a class with ReDefiners World Languages! We offer instruction in Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, and English. To learn more as to how you can sign up for lessons and instruction, please visit https://www.redefinerswl.org/.


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