Cinco de Mayo – Celebrate Mexico’s Victory Over France with Never Ending Parades, Art, Food & Sightseeing
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over the world but this Mexican holiday is best celebrated in its country of origin.
How Cinco de Mayo Got Started
Cinco de Mayo is a worldwide celebration of Mexican pride and it’s fight for freedom. This celebration came about as a commemoration of the Mexican Army winning a battle with the French on the 5th of May in 1862. In this historic battle for independence, the French greatly outnumbered the Mexican Army. Before the French arrived in Mexico City, the Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza sent his troops to attack the French in Puebla, a much smaller village that was on the way to the capital.
With this swift attack, the Mexican Army won! The Battle of Puebla became a holiday on September 16, 1862, and every year since then people all over have been celebrating this spirit of Mexican freedom on Cinco de Mayo.
Celebrate Mexican Culture
The May 5th celebration is actually not a celebration of Independence but a commemoration of the Mexican victory over the French. Each year, May 5th is a celebration of pride for Mexicans and world celebrators alike.
Origins and History of Cinco de Mayo:
The origins of the Pueblan battle began when the Mexican president Benito Juarez stopped payment on a debt Mexico owed the French due to Mexico’s trouble with their economy. The French arrived in Mexico in order to assess the issue with Mexico’s payment.
Napoleon III was hoping to overtake Mexico and add it to his growing empire. Napoleon sent his cousin to overtake Mexico alone with members of the French army. The French planned their attack for Mexico City but were caught off guard when the Mexican army surprised them in Puebla.
Although the Mexican Army won the war of Puebla, the French military eventually took Mexico City and occupied Mexico for the next four years. Eventually the French troops withdrew in 1866. Today, Cinco de Mayo signifies the Mexican’s defeat of the French in that Battle of Puebla and was a source of pride during the years that the Mexicans were being occupied by the French. Cinco de Mayo is symbolic in that it serves as a memory of a time when the underdog stood its ground again the European forces that threatened its Independence.
Celebrations of Cinco de Mayo in Puebla
The celebrations that take place during Cinco de Mayo vary from country to country but the best ones happen in the village of Puebla. During the celebrations in Puebla, citizens dress up like the French and Mexican soldiers in parade, people sell and wear traditional Mexican clothing and costumes, and restaurants and vendors offer the best of Mexican dishes. During some celebrations, Puebla puts on a reenactment of the iconic Battle of Puebla to commemorate the Mexican victory.Additionally, the celebrations in Puebla feature live music with some of Mexico’s most popular singers and bands.
Cinco de Mayo Festivals Around the World
In America and other countries, many people celebrate Cinco de Mayo by wearing costumes, waving the Mexican flag, playing mariachi music, and dancing amongst other things. During many of these celebrations, partiers partake in salsa, tortilla chips, enchiladas, tacos and other traditional Mexican food. During Cinco de Mayo celebrations in different countries, many choose to take the day to have fun with family and friends. In Canada, celebrators participate in an annual skydiving tradition, in the island of Malta, people drink the traditional beer of Mexico, and in the Cayman Islands, the country holds an annual air guitar competition.
Many people use the holiday of Cinco de Mayo to gather together to drink margaritas, dance, and eat Mexican food. If you would like to change up your typical May 5th celebration, take a trip to Mexico this year! Having an authentic Cinco de Mayo will no doubt be an incredible experience for you.
More About Puebla
It’s no wonder that the Puebla Cinco de Mayo festival is so large as it is held in is Mexico’s fourth largest city: Puebla. Each year over 20,000 people gather to take part in the festivities on the fifth of may. Puebla as a city itself is the origin of the discovery of maize or corn. Additionally, inside Puebla are several historic places for you to visit. There’s the museums, libraries, walls of murals, antique shops, restaurants, convents, churches, the largest man made monument, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, and many more.
Getting to Puebla
If you are looking to book a trip to Mexico for Cinco de Mayo, there are many direct flights from the United States into Puebla. Additionally, if you arrive in Mexico City, it is easy to travel to Puebla from there. Once you arrive you can make your way to one of the many hotels that are actually in the city so you can walk to wherever you need to be. However, if you are staying in Mexico City or somewhere else, you may want to rent a car or use city transportation to get around the next couple of days.
Cinco de Mayo is Also An American Victory
The largest celebration of Cinco de Mayo is actually in Los Angeles, California. Californians celebrate Mexican freedom and pride maybe even more than most of Mexico. People in America have a lot to celebrate during Cinco de Mayo as well. During the time of America’s Civil War, certain Mexicans that rejected France’s occupation of the country fled to California to get help. These refugees volunteered to fight in the Civil War and after the United States finished its war, they pressured the French military to withdraw from Mexico.
Safety in Mexico
Many tourists and people that are interested in traveling to Mexico for Cinco de Mayo may worry about how safe visiting the country will be. Often times the alarming stories of kidnappings, murders, and violence in general happen in parts of the country that are well out of the way of the typical tourist areas. Additionally, in recent year areas in Mexico that have been known for their history of violence have been rehabilitated and are now family friendly areas.
Best Food in Puebla and Mexico City
In Puebla, you can find the best food during Cinco de Mayo. Some of these famous Mexican dishes include the taco árabe—a taco made with fat bread and traditionally flavored pork. Additionally, Puebla locals often make a starch dish forescamoles—ant larvae that has been sautéed with butter.
The food in Mexico City is incredible as well. The best thing about all food in Mexico is the corn-flour tortillas known as masa. Insects in Mexico City are used in a lot of dishes like the meal gusanos de maguey or chinicuiles or fried caterpillars.
Outside of Puebla
Look no further than Mexico City if you are looking for other places to visit while in town for Cinco de Mayo. Mexico City has a population of more than 21 million people. In the recent years, crime has decreased significantly, buildings have been restored, amongst other things. Visit the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan for an experience rich in history and culture, check out Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, the Chapultepec park to see the attractions, check out Mayan artifacts at the National Museum of Anthropology, stop by the studio of Diego River and Frida Kahlo, the Historic Center of Mexico City for even more culture, and a lot more.
When in Mexico, you can visit Mérida, what many call “real Mexico”. Mérida is home to 750,000 Mexicans. The city itself is a wonderful place to venture out on day trips, preferably on the weekend when the central part of the city is shut down for visitors to explore the historical areas of the city, culturally rich Mayan sites, and fishing villages with flamingoes.
Try San Miguel de Allende, just two hours away from Mexico City. The village itself is a Unesco World Heritage site and has many different attractions for family and friends. Check out cathedrals, shops, gardens, farm to table restaurants, shops featuring handmade goods along with many more things. Todos Santos should be on your list of places to visit during your stay in Mexico. There are several beaches for surfing nearby, artists studios open to visit, boat trips that will take you to Cabo, and a beautiful view of the mountains in the background.
Visit Huatulco for the beach resort most tourists flock to 12 miles of pure shores and perfect beaches make this resort the quintessential vacation spot. You can surf, dive, bike, snorkel, swim, kayak, raft, and visit local coffee farms and waterfalls. Playa del Carmen is another great beach town to try. From great hotels, the best taco spots, and swimming in limestone sinkholes, Playa del Carmen may just be the highlight of your trip.
So pack your bags and get ready for an international affair of fun, culture, and a lot of celebration this Cinco de Mayo!
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