Cinco de Mayo is a bit of a mystery as to the popularity of the holiday, because it is more popular in the United States than it is in Mexico. It celebrates a Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla during the Mexican-Franco war in the 1860’s. The history of United States is well integrated with the history of Mexico. In fact, much of the southwestern United States was Mexican territory until 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed.
For that reason, the fifth day of May is more than just a celebration of a battle that took place in 1862 between France and Mexico. It is a celebration of the Mexican-American heritage that forged the beginnings of our nation. If you have never considered celebrating Cinco de Mayo with your family, consider using the day to encourage your children to further their curiosity for the many diverse historical beginnings of our nation and to explore the Mexican-American heritage of our country.
If you want to honor the Battle of Puebla for Cinco de Mayo, you’ll find that the regional foods that the town is best known for prove overwhelming to the culinary-challenged folks among us; however, putting a bit of a U.S. American spin on them is totally acceptable. After all, we are celebrating a union of Mexican and American heritage.
Mole Poblano: So the town of Puebla is known for mole poblano, a thick sauce with peppers, nuts, and seeds. The ingredient list is almost a page long, but thankfully, one can buy pre-packaged sauce mixes and bottles of the stuff at some grocery stores or even online. You can use it on meats and other dinner dishes.
Elote: Elote isn’t necessarily specific to Puebla, Mexico, but it’s delicious and easier to manage. It’s a festive food that seems pretty fitting for an American style barbecue too. Just pierce some corn cobs with skewers and barbecue them (or just cook them). Lather them with butter then mayonnaise. Sprinkle cojita cheese on them (or parmesan if you can’t find cojita cheese), then finish them with some chili powder.
Some foods known to the town of Puebla are chalupas, pulled pork, cemitas, and camotes, and chiles en nogada. You can make your U.S. Americanized version of them by making corn tortilla tacos, pulled pork stuffed into bread pockets, sweet potatoes, and stuffed chili peppers.
Music makes a holiday come to life. If you can afford to hire a Mariachi band, you’ll have a great Cinco de Mayo party. Most cannot afford that luxury, so you might consider creating a music list on Spotify or buying some mp3’s with mariachi music. Meringue and Salsa are ripe for a swell celebration of Cinco de Mayo too.
If you like the idea of focusing on the integration of Mexican and U.S. American heritage, explore a variety of contemporary and classical musical genres that span artists from both the United States and Mexico.
There are no steadfast rules for celebrating any specific holiday, but you can make it yours. Make it a simple family day of fun or get all your friends and family involved in a huge party blow-out. Have a pot-luck. Play history trivia games focused on Mexican-American history. Fill a Piñata with candy and little sheets of paper with historical facts about Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla. Have fun and connect with the history of our nation.