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Cinco De Mayo – Origins, Meaning and Celebrations

Ryan Marshall
Last Updated: July 31st, 2023

Anyone who has spent time in Southern California during early May knows just how much fun Cinco De Mayo celebrations can be. I personally grew up celebrating the holiday every year, and have fond memories of Mariachi music and delicious food.

In this article, we will take a deeper dive into the history of Cinco De Mayo, as well as where the largest celebrations take place in the United States. I’ll also highlight some of the best drinks to enjoy on Cinco De Mayo, and answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the holiday.

History of Cinco De Mayo

history of cinco de mayo

Cinco De Mayo celebrations take place on the 5th of May each year to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The holiday is primarily celebrated in the United States, and it is not considered a major holiday within Mexico itself.

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding Cinco De Mayo is that people believe it celebrates Mexico’s independence. In reality, Mexico’s Independence Day takes place on September 16, and this holiday is much more important domestically compared to Cinco De Mayo.

In the United States, Cinco De Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage for Mexican Americans. There are many different ways to celebrate the holiday, and many different cities with large Mexican American populations host large celebrations and parades.

Mariachi music played by large bands is common on Cinco De Mayo, and the holiday marks some of the highest sales of Mexican beer in the United States each year.

Traditional Mexican food is served at celebrations nationwide, and it is estimated that the US alone goes through over 80 million pounds of Avocados each Cinco De Mayo.

2023 Cinco De Mayo Celebrations

2023 cinco de mayo celebrations

While Cinco De Mayo is celebrated all across the globe, it has mainly been embraced in the United States. Cities with large Mexican American populations throw the largest celebrations, and I have highlighted the top celebrations in three different parts of the country.


Los Angeles plays host to some of the largest Cinco De Mayo celebrations in the entire world each year, and there are many different events and parades that take place all week. Fiesta Broadway is one of the most notable Cinco De Mayo celebrations in the world, and many people consider it to be the best way to celebrate the holiday.

About two hours south of Los Angeles, (depending on traffic!) San Diego plays host to some amazing Cinco De Mayo parades, parties, and art shows. Fiesta Old Town takes place May 5th through 7th and is a vibrant celebration of Mexican music, food, and culture.


San Antonio is a fantastic place to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, as there are different celebrations around town for the entire week each May. Texas’ largest Cinco De Mayo celebration takes place on May 2nd and 3rd in the Traders Village district.

Houston also hosts a massive Cinco De Mayo parade each year, and after a 3-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, this year’s celebration looks to be larger than ever before. There are over 100 entries in this year’s downtown Houston Cinco De Mayo Parade, and the area is sure to be full of food and drink vendors.


Chicago is another major United States city with a significant Mexican American population that celebrates Cinco De Mayo on a large scale every year. The yearly Cinco De Mayo festival starts on Cermak Road and Wood Street and finishes with a large festival at Douglas Park.

2024 Cinco De Mayo Celebrations

2024 cinco de mayo celebrations

While it is far too early for major announcements regarding celebration dates and locations for the year 2024, it is safe to assume that many of the “usual suspects” where large Cinco De Mayo celebrations are held will continue with similar parades and festivals.

What to Drink on Cinco De Mayo

drink on cinco de mayo


The Margarita is by far the most commonly enjoyed cocktail on Cinco de Mayo each year, and there are many different variations of the drink. While there are many different flavors and variations, the most traditional and best Margaritas are simply made with Tequila, ice, lime juice, and salt.


While Tequila is by far the most popular and well-known liquor to come out of Mexico, Mezcal has become increasingly popular around the world over the past few years. Mezcal can be produced outside of Jalisco and carries many different tasting notes ranging from smoky to floral.

Mexican Beer

Another great way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo is by enjoying an ice-cold Mexican beer like a Modelo or Tecate. These light and refreshing lagers are best enjoyed outdoors on a warm day, and sales of Mexican beers spike each year in the United States on Cinco De Mayo.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Cinco De Mayo celebrate?

Cinco De Mayo is an annual celebration commemorating the Mexican victory over France in the Battle of Puebla. Many people believe the day signifies Mexico’s Independence Day, but this is untrue. It is far more popular in the United States compared to domestically in Mexico.

Is Cinco De Mayo the same as the Day of the Dead?

Mexico’s Day of the Dead takes place on November 1st and 2nd each year, and it is a celebration of loved ones that have passed away. Cinco De Mayo and Día de los Muertos are completely different holidays that signify very different things.

Where are the largest Cinco De Mayo celebrations?

All of the largest Cinco De Mayo celebrations in the world take place in the United States, and the most notable festivals take place in cities with large Mexican American populations. Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, and Denver are all well-known for hosting large Cinco De Mayo parties and parades.

Cinco De Mayo – Final Thoughts

Cinco De Mayo is a very popular holiday in the United States that takes place on the 5th of May each year. Many large cities like Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago are well known for hosting large-scale Cinco De Mayo celebrations.

Traditional Mexican lagers and cocktails like Margaritas are some of the most enjoyed beverages on this holiday, as well as craft liquors like Mezcal.

Feel free to leave a comment below to let others know how you and your family celebrate Cinco De Mayo, and feel free to let me know which celebrations I should have included!

About The Author

Ryan Marshall

Ryan is a full time freelance writer who can most often be found on the disc golf course or local coffee shop when not behind a keyboard. He is an avid traveler and lover of all things sports and outdoors. Ryan is also a certified level one sommelier, and is endlessly curious about the world of high end beverages. Writing about wine, coffee, and other specialty beverages has given him a chance to take a deeper dive into his research, and he loves helping people find the perfect drink for their palates and preferences!

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