Cinco de Mayo facts, activities, and lesson plans are a great addition to your fun holidays learning and learn more about Mexican heritage, culture, and pride. Plenty of fun ideas for a lesson plan on Cinco de Mayo and Mexico for preschool to high school!
What Is Cinco de Mayo All About?
Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration on May 5th.
What better way to learn about the day than talk about Cinco de Mayo facts, Cinco de Mayo history, and then do fun, TRADITIONAL crafts, lessons, and projects!
But first . . .
What does Cinco de Mayo mean?
Cinco de Mayo translates to the 5th of May. It is also called Battle of Puebla Day in Mexico to commemorate Mexico’s victory over France.
What exactly is Cinco de Mayo?
Why Cinco de Mayo Is Celebrated
Cinco de Mayo 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 actually commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla.
However, in the U.S. you will find cultural heritage festivals during Cinco de Mayo, with many putting an American spin on the activities than the more traditional Cinco de Mayo activities.
While we’re add it, let’s clear up something else:
Is Cinco de Mayo the Day of the Dead?
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 Fun Facts for Students:
- 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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Cinco de Mayo Recipes
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 moe-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 food includes:
- 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
Cinco de Mayo Activities, Crafts, and Lessons & MORE
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 or unit studies that stay true to the traditions of Puebla and to the holiday.
- Read Cinco de Mayo Children’s Books
- Watch a Cinco de Mayo VIDEO
- 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)
- Make authentic flour tortillas
- Make traditional mole poblano
- Learn about Mariachi music
- Read about the traditional China Poblana dresses worn in Puebla
- Make a fiesta skirt
- Make a 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
- Look for a Cinco de Mayo festival or celebration near you and attend!
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED CINCO DE MAYO FACTS, ACTIVITIES AND LESSONS!