It’s been long rumored that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican Independence Day. Many people think of it as the best day to hit the bars and head out to street festivals, overindulging in margaritas and chips and salsa. Some call it the “St. Patrick’s Day of “Mexican Holidays.” We know that it’s none of those things. In fact, we believe it’s time to answer the long-debated question, “why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo?”
The “Why” of Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Let’s put those pesky rumors to rest. Cinco de Mayo (literally, the 5th of May) is not Mexican Independence Day. That day is celebrated every year on September 16. Mexican Independence Day commemorates the day that Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla asked the Mexican people to stand up against the Spanish government. This day is quite different from Cinco de Mayo, which honors the Mexican Army’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla.
What is the Battle of Puebla? Mexico had racked up some serious debt to several European countries during their annexation from Spain. Spain and England were able to negotiate debt-repayment with Mexico, but France, under Napoleon III’s rule would not back down. The country sent large numbers of troops into Mexico – thousands more than the Mexican Army. It was a surprise to everyone (some say Mexico especially) that on the 5th of May in 1862 they won what would be historically known as the Battle of Puebla.
The “Where” of Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo with more vigor than the majority of Mexico. This explains its comparisons to St. Patrick’s Day, which also isn’t really celebrated the same way in Ireland as it is in the States. The celebration exception is the town of Puebla, where the battle took place. Puebla honors the well-fought battle with parades, festive music, traditional food, and folkloric dancing.
The “What” of Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
One of the best ways to celebrate any holiday is with traditional food. You may think that means ordering up a plate of tacos and a fishbowl margarita on Cinco de Mayo. Honestly authentic Cinco de Mayo food is richer than that. Tastes included mole poblano, chalupas, and chiles in nogada. We think the food is as important as cocktails when it comes to celebrating authentically. So much so that last year we held a contest for our favorite food bloggers to create their most authentic Cinco de Mayo recipes. LatinoFoodie, the winners who soon became our friends, created a magnificent mole poblano recipe that perfectly honors the true meaning of the holiday.
Drink Authentically on Cinco de Mayo
The Organica is our honesty expression of a skinny margarita and festive addition to any traditional celebration. Follow these easy instructions to make the simple, 4 ingredient Organica margarita.
Get the Ingredients:
- 1.5 oz Azuñia Blanco Organic Tequila
- .75 oz Azuñia 100% Blue Agave Syrup
- 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- Splash of Water
- Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and pour into a salt-rimmed glass.
- Top with a lime wheel garnish
If you’re looking to expand your drink palate, we have some equally simple and delicious cocktail suggestions for you to taste. Try the Tequila Negroni, a classic cocktail with a Blanco twist. Looking for something a little fruitier, try the margarita’s beloved cousin, the Paloma. We also suggest the rich Amatitán Old Fashioned, a cocktail that is truly deferential to the history of Mexico. For a glimpse at the beauty of our homeland, mix up a slightly spicy Sonoran Sunrise.
The “How” of Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Now that you understand the cultural significance of Cinco de Mayo and have some bona fide recipes to try, you can plan your own traditional fiesta. We only ask two things of you. First, that you share your knowledge of the Battle of Puebla and the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo with your party-goers. And second, that you mix up a few of simple cocktails to toast with.
Keep the Information Flowing
We hope we dropped some useful knowledge on you. If you like what you learned and want more history (plus recipes, home-bartending tips and more), sign up for our weekly newsletter. We promise to keep the history lessons brief, the cocktail recipes easy, and the food delicious.