Itâ€™s actually the day a small Mexican army defeated a large invading French army in Puebla in 1862. The Franco-Mexican war ended with a prideful Mexican victory and strengthened the resistance movement.
Some of our southern neighbors celebrate with parades, reenactments, and other festivities. But in the U.S., we go all out to honor the Mexican-American heritage that is an important part of our own culture.
If youâ€™re into a little merrymaking this May 5, but donâ€™t want to go balls out, here are some ideas to help you get in the spirit without being obnoxious.
1. Support Local Mexican Restaurants
The very best thing you can do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo is go to a local Mexican restaurant, bar, or shop.
Visit neighborhood places that serve traditional, boldly-flavored dishes that give you the flavor of Mexico. ShopÂ local online gourmet or craft storesÂ that we should support on this day.
Avoid Chipotle or large Mexican retailers.
2. Fix a Feast
Authentic Mexican food is flavorful, zesty, spice-filled, rich, and made with fresh, simple ingredients. Itâ€™s not the Tex-Mex you get at most popular chain restaurants (which definitely has its appeal, too).
But for Cinco de Mayo, skip the tacos, burritos, and rice bowls, and get into these authentic Mexican foods:
- Mole poblano
- Traditional homemade guacamole
- Enchiladas verdes
- Fresh tortillas
- Carne Asada or canitas street tacos
3. Stir It Up
Any celebration calls for drinking (whether weâ€™re talking alcohol or not). May 5th is no exception. Itâ€™s the perfect time to throw back a frozen margarita and raise a tequila shot to toast our friends near and far.
Itâ€™s not the perfect time to don a sombrero, get shitfaced, and find yourself face down on a sidewalk outside the Mexican restaurant, however.
For the homebound crowd, hereâ€™s a real simple, delicious margarita recipe that does not involve sugary mixes:
- Â¼ c. tequila (make it a good one)
- Â¼ c. fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp. agave nectar
- 2 lime wheels
- Kosher salt to rim the glass (optional)
Moisten the rim of your margarita glass with a lime wheel and dip into a dish with a layer of kosher salt (optional). Mix tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar in a shaker with ice, and strain into a margarita glass. Garnish with lime wheel.
For a delightful non-alcoholic beverage, stir up an agua fresca (fresh water) — pureed fruit, water, agave nectar, and lime juice.
4. Go to a Street Festival
Immerse yourself in the energy of the celebration by going to a Cinco de Mayo street festival. Dance to the sounds of a Mariachi band, eat from local food trucks, watch colorful floats, and drink up.
If youâ€™re looking for family-friendly events, this is always a great place to find fresh food, live entertainment, craft activities, parades, historical information, and traditional music.
5. Learn, Teach, Start Traditions
Take the opportunity to teach the children what May 5th means to Mexican people and the countryâ€™s future. Teach them about the Spanish language and culture, and make it a tradition to have a family-friendly party at home.
But if youâ€™re really feeling the love, travel down to Puebla, Mexico, home to Cinco de Mayoâ€™s Battle of Puebla, for a week-long celebration with concerts, parades, lectures, bands, and reenactments galore.