You probably already know, but Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration on May 5. What better way to learn about the day than talk about Cinco de Mayo facts and history and then do fun, TRADITIONAL crafts, lessons, and projects!
But first . . .
What exactly is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo translates to the 5th of May. It celebrates the date of Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. Surprisingly, it is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico, especially in communities with a large Mexican-American population.
Many people wonder “What is Cinco de Mayo?”—especially in the United States where we seem to have adopted the day as a reason to eat Tex-Mex and drink low-priced margaritas. And, many Americans think it is it has something to do with the Mexican American war. (It doesn’t.)
You will find cultural heritage festivals in the U.S. during Cinco de Mayo.
Now you know that Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with the Mexican American war (which is a common misconception) and is about way more than Tex-Mex food, let’s clear up something else:
Is Cinco de Mayo and the Day of the Dead the same thing?
Cinco de Mayo is not the same thing as Day of the Dead. Cinco de Mayo happens on May 5 every year and commemorates Mexico’s victory in the Battle of Puebla. Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated each year between October 31 and November 4. It honors relatives and ancestors who have died.
What are some interesting facts about Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo Facts:
- Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for 5th of May
- Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla
- It is not Mexican Independence Day and is not a “Mexican July 4th”
- The holiday has nothing to do with the Mexican-American war
- Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico and is probably celebrated more widely in the United States
- Los Angeles throws the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S., followed by Denver, New York, Phoenix, and Houston
- Locally in Puebla and Veracruz, Mexico, the day is a big deal and is celebrated as a holiday
- Places in Japan, Australia, and South Africa now also celebrate Cinco de Mayo
- President Roosevelt help make Cinco de Mayo popular in the U.S. to improve relationships with Latin countries
- 81 million pounds of avocados are eaten on Cinco de Mayo every year in the United States
- The holiday is celebrated with colorful clothing (“Puebla dresses” / China Poblana dresses), mariachi music, and a traditional Mexican folk dance called the “Baile folklorico”
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What foods are served at Cinco de Mayo?
The official dish of the holiday is mole poblano because it is a traditional dish in Puebla.
(Mole is pronounced mow-lay.)
Mole poblano is a spicy chicken dish with a deep, dark reddish-brown sauce called mole. The sauce contains about 20 ingredients that includes chili peppers and chocolate.
Other traditional Cinco de Mayo foods include:
- Lamb barbacoa that has been smoked underground in banana leaves
- Carnitas topped with queso fresco, pickled onions, and salsa verde in a corn tortilla
- Chiles en Nogada (poblano pepper dipped in egg batter, fried, stuffed with picadillo—a meat and dried fruit hash—and topped with walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds, and parsley)
- Pozole (traditional soup served on holidays)
Cinco de Mayo desserts include:
- Tres Leche cake
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19 TRADITIONAL Cinco de Mayo Activities, Crafts, and Lessons
Now that you know the real Cinco de Mayo facts, here are some fun crafts, activities, and books you can add to your Cinco de Mayo lessons that stay true to the traditions of Puebla and to the holiday.
- Watch a Cinco de Mayo VIDEO [below]
- Then watch another really good video on Cinco de Mayo:
- Make a Mexico lapbook
- Do a History of Cinco de Mayo lesson plan (Grades 9-12)
- Or, another Cindo de Mayo lesson (Grades 5-11)
- Make traditional mole poblano
- Learn about Mariachi music
- Read about the traditional China Poblana dresses worn in Puebla
- Make a fiesta skirt
- Make tambourine and maracas
- Make homemade castanets
- Learn about Talavera pottery, traditional pottery of Puebla
- Watch a short video on Talavera pottery
- Paint a Talavera-inspired coaster
- Watch a video of Baile folklorico (folk dance)
- Print Cinco de Mayo coloring sheets
Read Cinco de Mayo Children’s Books
WHAT CINCO DE MAYO FACTS AND ACTIVITIES ARE YOUR FAVORITES?
LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!