Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a holiday held on May 5th. It is celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla  The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War.   Many people believe it is Mexico’s Independence Day, but that is incorrect. (Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16.)

Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.  

The battle began when Mexico was attacked by France and other European countries because it stopped paying interest to its creditors. After the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, Mexico was in a fiscal crisis. In 1861 Mexican President Benito Juárez declared that Mexico was suspending payment on all its foreign debt for two years.

Even though Juárez had said payments would resume in 1863, Great Britain, France and Spain were not satisfied. Although the British and Spanish backed off, France insisted on using force to secure its debt payments. French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte named a relative of his, Archduke Maximillian of Austria, as ruler of Mexico.

The French army outnumbered the Mexican army 2 to 1, was better equipped, and had not been defeated in nearly 50 years before this historic date. As it was marching toward Mexico City, the French Army encountered stiff resistance. On May 5th, 1862, General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the French Army in the Battle of Puebla.  The entire battle lasted just about two hours and changed the course of history in North America.

Despite the victory on May 5, The French won other battles and France later went on to occupy Mexico in 1863. Maximillian became the ruler in 1864.  They ruled there until they voluntarily withdrew facing Mexican resistance and American pressure in 1867.

Cinco de Mayo is a time to recognize the bravery of those who fight against oppression. Perhaps that is why this holiday is popular wherever there are people of Mexican descent.

The holiday originated with a surprising battle. In 1861, France, England and Spain sent ships to Mexico to settle a debt. Within a few months, an agreement was reached and the British and Spanish navy set sail toward home. But the French ships, by order of Napoleon III, began an attack. On May 5, 1862, 6000 soldiers under the commander of the French forces tried to capture the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe in Puebla de Los Angeles, Mexico. Two thousand Mexican men, led by General Ignazio Zaragoza, fought back hard and held the fort. Although smaller in number, the Mexican army won this battle but they did not win the war. The French conquered the country, and in 1864, a European emperor was put on the Mexican throne. Three years later, after a reign filled with problems, the emperor was deposed and killed.

Even during the short period of French rule, the Mexicans celebrated Cinco de Mayo. They changed the name of the town where the French were defeated to Puebla de Zaragoza. 

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the USA 

In the United States, the holiday is essentially a day to celebrate Mexican culture and is celebrated widely across the country. Cinco de Mayo is much more popular in America, where citizens of Mexican descent hold festivals across the country than in Mexico.  Celebrations include dancing, food, music, and special events to spotlight the culture.

A 1998 study in the Journal of American Culture it was reported that there were more than 120 official U.S. celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, and they could be found in 21 different states. An update in 2006, found that the number of official Cinco de Mayo events was 150 or more

The first Cinco de Mayo in the US was celebrated in 1967 when a group of California State University students realized there was no Chicano celebration in the country.

- Los Angeles, California. The largest Cinco de Mayo festival in the world is the Festival de Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles, CA. More than 600,000 people attend to partake in song, spirit, and dance.

- Denver, Colorado -Denver's Cinco de Mayo Celebrate Culture Festival lass two days. It attracts 400,000 people to Hear live Mexican regional, Spanish rock, Latin jazz, salsa, ranchero, Tex-Mex, and Chicano rock music outdoors. Special events at the Civic Center Park, Denver.
- Chicago, Illinois - Cinco De Mayo -Douglas Park draws as many as 200,000 people to its colorful Cinco de Mayo celebration that includes a festival, musical events, food booths, games, kids area, and cultural displays,
Chicago also has an alternative site, the - Little Village's Cinco de Mayo Festival.

- St, Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota - Cinco de Mayo (known as Minnesota's Spiciest Celebration) takes place in District del Sol on St. Paul's West Side with music, food and a salsa-tasting contest, a parade, sports zone, wellness village, crafts, children's section and history area.

- Texas, Cinco de Mayo Across Texas, Because Texas was once part of Mexico, the state has a long-standing Mexican heritage and follows many Mexican traditions, including celebrating the popular Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo. Although many people believe this is strictly a border-region phenomenon, towns across the state hold festivals to celebrate Mexico's most famous military victory.

.- Dallas, Texas - Dallas Cinco de Mayo Celebrations - Dancers, artists, and performers gather at various festivals throughout the Metroplex. Many restaurants also offer special deals on food and drinks during this time.

- San Antonio, Texas - Cinco de Mayo festival with music and food, concerts and other commemorations takes place at historic Market Square.
- San Marcos, Texas - this Cinco de Mayo celebration of culture includes Miss Cinco de Mayo and Little Miss Cinco pageants, a parade, and salsa/hot sauce contest, a statewide menudo cookoff, and lots of musical entertainment

- Houston, Texas - East End Cinco de Mayo Festival

- Fort Worth, Texas,  DFW Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

- Austin, Texas Cinco De Mayo

- Duncanville, Texas Cinco De Mayo

- Denton, Texas - Cinco De Mayo

- Omaha, Nebraska - Cinco De Mayo - A parade, festival, carnival, and crowning of a queen mark Cinco de Mayo celebrations here.
- Phoenix, Arizona - Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in multiple venues throughout the desert area.

- Chandler, Arizona - Chandler, just south of Phoenix, for a festival and Chihuahua races.

- Verede Canyon Railroad, Arizona - Cinco de May Special Event on the Verde Canyon Railraod - The Cinco de Mayo Celebration on May 5th unleashes a colorful fiesta saluting a rich heritage. The roots of Hispanic culture run deep in the Verde Valley so it is no wonder that Cinco de Mayo is much anticipated throughout the region. The celebration begins at Verde Canyon Railroad before the train even departs the station. The rhythmic vitality of Mariachi music sets the toe-tapping mood while you enjoy authentic Mexican food and specialty drinks from the Copper Spike Café. To make reservations call 800-293-7245 or visit

- Portland, Oregon - Cinco De Mayo Fiesta - Mexican food and carnival enliven Tom McCall Waterfront Park during Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
- Reno, Nevada - more than 100,000 visitors attend this Cinco de Mayo celebration, which includes Latino music and food booths.
- Kansas City, Kansas - celebrates Cinco de Mayo in the heartland.

- San Francisco, California - Cinco De Mayo Festival in  Dolores Park
- the Mission neighborhood goes all out in a joyous Cinco de Mayo celebration. Includes free all-day cultural entertainment, health screenings, Lucha Libre wrestlers, and a Mission Dolores tour.
- San Diego, California - The San Diego Cinco de Mayo is located in historic Old Town San Diego, the birthplace of California. This completely free, sponsored event attracts up to 250,000 visitors. there is live Cinco de Mayo entertainment at Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town and a maracas-and-margaritas Cinco de Mayo blow-out in Gaslamp.

- Santa Barbara, California, Santa Barbara California's Cinco de Mayo festival is a two day community celebration held on closest weekend.

- Albuquerque, New Mexico Cinco De Mayo parades, folklorico, mariachis and food.

- Midvale, Utah, Cinco De Mayo

- Charleston, South Carolina, The Charleston Cinco de Mayo Festival was founded in 2006 and takes place annually on or near May 5th
- St. Louis, Missouri, Cinco de Mayo festival of St Louis
- Mascotte, Florida, MascotteCinco de Mayo Celebration 

- Wichita, Kansas has two Cinco de Mayo festivals

- Jersey City, New Jersey Jersey City Cinco de Mayo

Other Celebrations include...
Springfield, Missouri ; Cincinnati, Ohio ; Fargo, North Dakota ; Cedar Rapids, Iowa ; Boise, Idaho

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in Mexico

 Although Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday, It's celebration in Mexico is limited primarily to the state of Puebla, about 100 miles east of Mexico City, where the original battle took place, and  sporadically throughout the rest of the country. Celebration activities include food, music, and dancing.

Other Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

In Vancouver, Canada, A sky-diving club holds a Cinco de Mayo skydiving event.

In the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, there is an annual Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition.

In the Island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, revelers are encouraged to drink Mexican beer on May 5th.

Need more information? Have Additions, Corrections, Questions, Ideas, or Opinions? Visit the Holiday Forum

For Holiday and holiday related supplies visit the Shop

Mobile Menu Widescreen Menu Desktop Menu