Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, celebrates Mexico’s victory against the French in the Battle of Puebla. Although many Americans treat this as an excuse to drink excessively, this holiday is seldom celebrated in Mexico.
If you want to honor Mexican culture and history, take Cinco de Mayo more seriously. Here, we’ll talk a bit more about Cinco de Mayo’s history and how you can celebrate respectfully.
Cinco de Drinko: The Historical Facts
Cinco de Mayo does not represent Mexican Independence Day, which occurs on September 16th. Instead, it commemorates the Battle of Puebla, fought in 1862.
Benito Juárez was elected as Mexico’s president in 1861. This was at a time when Mexico suffered from severe financial ruin, and Juárez had no choice but to default on his payments to Europe.
France, Britain, and Spain sent troops to Mexico in response, making clear that they expected to be paid back. After negotiations, Britain and Spain withdrew, but France wanted to use this opportunity to establish a French empire in Mexico. So began the Franco-Mexican War.
On May 5th, 1862, France sent 6,000 troops to attack Puebla. Juárez fought back with a mere 2,000 men who were poorly organized and not well-equipped. Surprisingly, France lost and retreated. This victory against all odds fortified Mexico’s desire for independence. Finally, in 1867, after military and political support from the US, France withdrew from Mexico.
How Did Cinco de Mayo Start?
The first Cinco de Mayo celebration occurred in 1863 in Southern California. It was a way for people to express support for Mexican independence against France. The holiday remained an annual celebration, and in the 1930s, it turned into a way to celebrate Mexican culture, heritage, and identity.
In the 1960s, newer Mexican-American generations claimed the holiday as a way to express both their American and Mexican identities. Celebrations got large enough that major corporations began taking an interest, such as the alcohol company Miller. They saw this as an opportunity to promote their products for the festivities.
By 1980, Cinco de Mayo was officially commercialized; now, to many, it’s an excuse to party, eat Tex-Mex, and drink margaritas. For many Mexican-Americans, however, the holiday remains a day of cultural celebration.
Is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Mexico?
Ironically, Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico. Children get the day off from school, but major institutions such as banks remain open. States have the option of closing such institutions, but it isn’t a formal holiday.
In Puebla, where the famous battle occurred, there is a battle reenactment and parades celebrating the victory. More minor celebrations arise in other parts of Mexico, but none are like that in Puebla.
Cinco de Drinko Beverages
You can respect Mexican culture and choose to drink respectfully on Cinco de Mayo. Here are some tasty beverage ideas for the holiday.
Mastering a margarita can be challenging, as it requires the correct ratio of lime juice to tequila to ensure it isn’t too bitter nor diluted. Instead, try Rancho La Gloria’s pre-made margaritas. You can enjoy Cinco de Mayo’s iconic drink while not being stuck in the kitchen prepping more beverages.
Rancho La Gloria’s ready-to-drink margaritas come in various flavors, including original, strawberry, mango, watermelon, and more. Explore here!
Related: Who Invented the Margarita?
Agua de Fresca
Fresh fruit waters are a standard drink in Mexico. Strawberry fruit water is prevalent because strawberries come into season around Cinco de Mayo. Make sure to start the recipe before the holiday to bring out the sweetness of the strawberries.
Mexican-style coffee with some tequila and liqueur is satisfying and delicious. Adding some tequila makes it the perfect sophisticated drink for Cinco de Mayo.
Horchata is enjoyed across Mexico and is made from rice blended with water. You’ll add sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and (plant-based) milk to the rice water to create the perfect horchata.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Without the Drinks
For those who want to focus on Mexican culture and identity without alcohol, there are many ways you can celebrate the holiday.
Instead of focusing on drinks, consider barbequing food for traditional Mexican fares such as tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
You can host these in your backyard or at a public park with grills if you don’t have a grill at home.
Watch a Movie
Watching a movie by a Mexican director or featuring life in Mexico is a wonderful way to celebrate the country’s heritage. Consider making or ordering some tacos, burritos, or other traditional Mexican cuisines to enjoy while learning about Mexico.
Head to the Beach
The beginning of May is warm in many parts of the United States, so consider bringing your celebration to the beach. As with the other activities on this list, you can bring authentic Mexican cuisine and enjoy the sand and surf.
If you want a drink with you at the beach, consider Rancho La Gloria’s ready-to-drink margaritas:
Cinco de Mayo celebrates a famous victory of Mexico against France at the Battle of Puebla. While many large corporations began commercializing the holiday in the late 1900s, you can observe the holiday while still being respectful of Mexican heritage.
Whether you’re Mexican-American or not, celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a way that feels right to you, even if that means doing nothing at all.
Looking to drink responsibly with a margarita that’s delicious and pre-made? Check out Rancho La Gloria’s ready-to-drink margaritas. We make bottled cocktails, popsicles, and canned cocktails so you and your friends can enjoy the traditional drink of Cinco de Mayo: margaritas! Learn more today.