Cinco de Mayo Traditions In and Out of Mexico
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday whose significance has changed over time, as has the way that the day is commemorated, especially in the United States. As a matter of fact, the holiday has become more popular on the northern side of the Rio Grande than it is in Mexico itself.
While Cinco de Mayo is largely considered a regional holiday in the country of its origin, being mostly celebrated in the state of Puebla; sensibly enough, since the day commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over a much larger number of French troops at Puebla in 1862.
The day is marked by minor celebrations throughout the country, but is not much of an occasion outside of Puebla and in Mexico City, where parades and an annual reenactment of the Battle of Puebla is held.
However, even though Cinco de Mayo is not a major nationwide holiday in Mexico, it is celebrated by a great number of people all over the United States, with official celebrations held annually in more than a hundred cities nationwide – and thousands upon thousands of informal parties.
In the US, the day has taken on its own meaning as a celebration of Mexican culture and especially, the achievements of the growing Mexican-American community; and the holiday has become associated with its own uniquely American Cinco de Mayo traditions.
Even though the United States counts more than 40 million people of Latino descent among its citizens, Cinco de Mayo has become so popular here that most celebrations of this Mexican holiday are held in towns and cities which do not have a significant Latino community. In a way, Americans have taken up the holiday and made it their own.
Cinco de Mayo traditions in the US include preparing and eating Mexican food; and as more and more grocery stores nationwide begin carrying ingredients like epazote, queso fresco and Serrano and Poblano chilies, an increasing number of Americans are beginning to explore authentic Mexican recipes both on Cinco de Mayo and year round.
Just as sales of Guiness and other Irish tipples spike on and around St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo traditions include quaffing Mexican brands of beer like Dos Equis, Pacifico, and Modelo. Tequila is of course always popular on this day and will be found at the table along with Mexican dishes both familiar and new (at least to those who do not know much about Mexican cuisine outside of what they see at fast food outlets).
Whether your favorite Cinco de Mayo traditions include attending a parade or a performance of Mexican music or dance, historical reenactments or simply sitting down for a delicious Mexican meal with family and friends, this is one holiday which America has definitely adopted, as they would say in Mexico, con gusto!
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