Cinco de Mayo: Not Just an Excuse to Eat Queso

When the phrase “Cinco de Mayo” is said in the United States, what usually comes to mind are margaritas, chips and queso and sombreros. But, the traditional Mexican holiday was originally coined to celebrate the victory of the Mexican Army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

Mexico was considered the underdog against the French in this battle. The victory of the Mexican army embodied unity and cultural pride for the country; a victory not many predicted. Although Cinco de Mayo is a comparatively minor holiday in its homeland, the United States has adopted these festivities as a way to celebrate Mexican culture.

In the United States

The Bojangles’ Booth is a popular spot at Cinco de Mayo Charlotte.

It is estimated over 150 official Cinco de Mayo events take place across the U.S. each year, including in Charlotte.

The Hispanic media company Norsan Media is hosting this year’s Cinco de Mayo Charlotte. This event has regional Mexican live music, traditional Mexican goods, Zumba and even a mechanical bull. It is  a celebration of culture and a family-friendly event.

Events like Cinco de Mayo Charlotte are an opportunity for large Hispanic communities to celebrate their traditions in the U.S. Mariachi bands, traditional foods and dress are all major themes in these celebrations. It gives the community the opportunity to explore new cultures, or celebrate their own.

In Mexico


Many Americans incorrectly celebrate Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day, which is actually on September 16th. Día de la Independencia is a federal holiday with completely different traditions than Cinco de Mayo. One Independence Day tradition, El Grito de Doloresincludes the regional president recreating the original battle cry of Miguel Hidalgo on the evening of September 15th.

Cinco de Mayo is mainly observed in the state of Puebla where the original battle took place. It is viewed as a much less substantial holiday than Mexican Independence Day; whether schools and businesses close down for Cinco de Mayo is dependent on the state. In Puebla, however, they still celebrate with military parades, battle reenactments and other festivities.

Similar to the U.S., it is viewed as a day of pride, culture and a celebration of heritage. Mexico and its neighbor to the north both utilize Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity for Hispanics to celebrate their culture and show their pride. Cinco de Mayo is not only a day of fun and festivities, but a chance for people to reflect on the past and understand the impact unity can have.



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Angela Hiltbrunner