THURSDAY, MAY 5: Crunch into a crispy tostada and smell the tantalizing aromas of a sizzling Mexican kitchen—it’s Cinco de Mayo! For one day, Mexican culture resonates around the world: The American President officially declares the holiday; Canadians hold street festivals; Australians put on a cultural fest and Brits celebrate with a toast to Mexico. Ironically, this global recognition of the Mexican nation didn’t start in Mexico: It started in the United States, where Americans of Mexican origin were commemorating a Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla of 1862.
Spanish for the fifth of May, Cinco de Mayo recalls the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In a true underdog story, Mexico was exhausted and in debt from years of fighting when its poorly equipped, outnumbered militia took on the well-outfitted, larger French army that hadn’t been defeated in decades—and won. Though the win was fairly short-lived, it nonetheless gave Mexico’s army and people a much-needed sense of national pride that is still remembered today. Since the first local Cinco de Mayo parties hosted by Mexicans mining in California, the holiday has expanded internationally.
Today, across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, England and France, Cinco de Mayo is an occasion to revel in Mexican food, culture, dance and music. Many American schools and communities hold Mexican educational events, and iconic Mexican symbols—including the Virgin of Guadalupe—are displayed. May 5 is also celebrated throughout the state of Puebla, in Mexico.
RECIPES & MORE
Of course, what is Cinco de Mayo without some tantalizing Mexican recipes?
Those hosting a party can find decoration ideas, food suggestions and more from Martha Stewart.
Vegetarian? Try this compilation of recipes.