Every year, American bars and restaurants get ready for Cinco de Mayo, a May 5th festival that is hardly observed south of the border. To celebrate, they offer special discounts on Mexican food and alcoholic beverages.

The date is mostly observed in the US as a celebration of Mexican American culture, which originated in California in the 1800s. Parades, street food, block parties, mariachi competitions, and ruffled costumes along with shiny ribbons and braids—are typical celebrations.

Group of four Musicians playing Mariachi music
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The holiday has become a justification for Americans, whether or not they are of Mexican descent, to down shots of tequila mixed with lime and salt and to stuff themselves silly with tortilla chips covered in melted orange cheddar—a dish that isn't common in Mexico.

This has led to some criticism of the festival, particularly since some beer producers and other marketers have profited from its joyous atmosphere and some attendees wear insulting clichés like enormous straw sombreros and artificial, drooping mustaches.

Quick History Lesson:

What is it
The celebration of Cinco de Mayo honors the anniversary of the Mexican troops' triumph against the French invaders at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza's Mexican soldiers received a huge emotional boost from their victory over the larger and better-equipped French forces.

Every year, the city of Puebla in central Mexico celebrates the historic triumph over the Europeans with parades and historical reenactments with participants dressed in both French and Mexican army uniforms.

What it isn’t
Mexico's most important celebration, Mexican Independence Day, is not the same as Cinco de Mayo.

On September 16, 1810, a priest from Dolores, Mexico, Rev. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made a call to arms against the European nation. This date marks Mexico's independence from Spain.

Every year on September 15 at approximately 11 p.m., the president of Mexico reenacts the Cry of Independence, or El Grito de Independencia, while ringing the bell that Hidalgo rang from the National Palace balcony.

The celebration usually concludes with three cheers of "¡Viva México!" rising above a vibrant whir of tens of thousands of people crammed into Mexico City's largest plaza, Zócalo.

Where To Celebrate Cinco De Mayo in Lubbock 2024

Gallery Credit: Kelsee Pitman