Cinco de Mayo in the United States
Cinco de Mayo is annually observed on May 5. It celebrates the defeat of the French army during the Battle of Puebla (Batalla de Puebla) in Mexico on May 5, 1862. It is not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day.
What Do People Do?
Cinco de Mayo is seen as a day to celebrate the culture, achievements and experiences of people with a Mexican background, who live in the United States. There is a large commercial element to the day, with businesses promoting Mexican services and goods, particularly food, drinks and music. Other aspects of the day center around traditional symbols of Mexican life, such as the Virgin de Guadalupe, and Mexican-Americans who have achieved fame, fortune and influence in the United States.
One of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations are in cities such as Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver and El Paso in the USA’s south-western regions. In these cities, a large proportion of the population has Mexican origins. Many people hang up banners and school districts organize lessons and special events to educate their pupils about the culture of Americans of Mexican descent. In some areas, particularly in Pubelo de Los Angeles, celebrations of regional Mexican music and dancing are held.
Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in the United States. Organizations, businesses and schools are open as usual. Public transit systems run on their usual schedule. In some areas of some cities, especially those in the Southwest, local parades and street events may cause some local congestion to traffic.
Cinco de Mayo officially commemorates the anniversary of an early victory by Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is not the anniversary of the defeat and expulsion of the French forces by the Mexicans, which occurred in 1867. It is also not, as is often assumed, the day of Mexico’s celebrations of independence, which are actually held on September 16. It is believed that the origins of Cinco de Mayo celebrations lie in the responses of Mexicans living in California in the 1860s to French rule in Mexico at that time.