Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles, California
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles, California

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Learn the history of a major Mexican American holiday.

Colorful dresses, music, and tacos. The holiday Cinco de Mayo has all that and much more!

In Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means “the fifth of May.” Each year on that date, people in Mexico and the United States throw big parties. Folks dress in bright clothing and play a style of Mexican music called mariachi. Popular foods include enchiladas, guacamole, and street corn. Yum!

Ines Ruiz-Huston helps plan a Cinco de Mayo party in Stockton, California. “We have clothes and food from different regions of Mexico,” Ruiz-Huston told News-O-Matic. “We also have floats, bands, and singers,” she added. For Ruiz-Huston, part of the celebration is teaching about the history of the holiday. She wants everyone to know: “Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s day!”

So, what is Cinco de Mayo? The holiday marks the of a battle from May 5, 1862. On that date, Mexican troops fought French soldiers in the city of Puebla. The ruler of France, Napoleon III, wanted to take over Mexico. But Mexico fought back. General Ignacio Zaragoza led the Mexican troops. And he defeated the bigger French army!

Historians call this the Battle of Puebla. But the victory didn’t last for long. Zaragoza died later in 1862. The French captured Puebla in 1863. Then they took Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, after that. French forces stayed in Mexico until 1867.

Catherine Goode is an expert on Mexican American history. She told News-O-Matic that residents of Puebla still remember the Battle of Puebla. “People mark the day with battle , mariachi music, or fireworks,” Goode explained. However, the historian said the holiday isn’t as important in other parts of Mexico. “For the most part, Mexicans simply do not celebrate.”

That’s not true in the United States. There are Cinco de Mayo events in cities like Los Angeles and New York City. “Cinco de Mayo celebrations amongst Mexican communities stretch back to the late 1800s,” explained Goode. “Communities made it a day to celebrate their links between Mexico and the United States.” Goode called it a way for Mexican Americans to “celebrate their place in this country.”

Ruiz-Huston agrees. “This is a celebration of ,” she explained. “We’re Mexican,” added Ruiz-Huston. “But we’re also American.”

Updated May 4, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Tyler Burdick

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles, California
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles, California

Colorful dresses, music, and tacos. The holiday Cinco de Mayo has all that and much more!

In Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means “the fifth of May.” Each year on that date, people in Mexico and the United States throw big parties. Folks dress in bright clothing and play a style of Mexican music called mariachi. Popular foods include enchiladas, guacamole, and street corn. Yum!

Ines Ruiz-Huston helps plan a Cinco de Mayo party in Stockton, California. “We have clothes and food from different regions of Mexico,” Ruiz-Huston told News-O-Matic. “We also have floats, bands, and singers,” she added. For Ruiz-Huston, part of the celebration is teaching about the history of the holiday. She wants everyone to know: “Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s day!”

So, what is Cinco de Mayo? The holiday marks the of a battle from May 5, 1862. On that date, Mexican troops fought French soldiers in the city of Puebla. The ruler of France, Napoleon III, wanted to take over Mexico. But Mexico fought back. General Ignacio Zaragoza led the Mexican troops. And he defeated the bigger French army!

Historians call this the Battle of Puebla. But the victory didn’t last for long. Zaragoza died later in 1862. The French captured Puebla in 1863. Then they took Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, after that. French forces stayed in Mexico until 1867.

Catherine Goode is an expert on Mexican American history. She told News-O-Matic that residents of Puebla still remember the Battle of Puebla. “People mark the day with battle , mariachi music, or fireworks,” Goode explained. However, the historian said the holiday isn’t as important in other parts of Mexico. “For the most part, Mexicans simply do not celebrate.”

That’s not true in the United States. There are Cinco de Mayo events in cities like Los Angeles and New York City. “Cinco de Mayo celebrations amongst Mexican communities stretch back to the late 1800s,” explained Goode. “Communities made it a day to celebrate their links between Mexico and the United States.” Goode called it a way for Mexican Americans to “celebrate their place in this country.”

Ruiz-Huston agrees. “This is a celebration of ,” she explained. “We’re Mexican,” added Ruiz-Huston. “But we’re also American.”

Updated May 4, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Tyler Burdick

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