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Cinco de Mayo is an excuse to eat Mexican food, drink margaritas and party hard here in the US. But in Mexico, the 5th of May is celebrated a little differently.  The holiday commemorates a major military victory where Mexico defeated France in 1862. Often referred to as Mexico’s version of Saint Patrick’s Day, find out what actually happens on this special day.

A massive parade in Puebla

Cinco de Mayo is a big deal in Puebla considering this is where war actually took place. Thousands of men and women – dressed as French and Mexican soldiers – gather in Puebla to re-enact the war while brightly colored floats with Mexican artwork roam the streets. Afterwards party-goers celebrate fiesta-style with music, dancing and street food. Tip: Look out for stalls selling patriotic clothing and accessories to help you look the part.  

Cinco de Mayo parade

Traditional Mexican food

Believe it or not, but you won’t find beef tacos, nachos of frozen margaritas in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo. Mole Pablano, chalupas and chiles en nogada are popular dishes served on the street in Puebla. Our favorite pick is Mole Pablano – a thick and savory chilli chocolate sauce usually served over chicken. And not to mention, it goes down a treat with a corona or tequila. 

Mole Pablano

Image from Flickr user: Jay Galvin

Mexico City hosts a big parade

Mexico City also hosts a big parade with dancing, singing and re-enactments of the war.  Almost everyone is dressed in long, flowing dresses or traditional Mexican pant suits with bright sombreros. The neighborhood of Penon de los Banos comes to life with locals flocking to the streets to indulge in Mexican food, attend a live concert or even a dancing lesson. Everyone has rockin’ outfits, so best to come prepared so you’re ready to go.

Cinco de Mayo parade

Throw your own fiesta

Sometimes the best way to celebrate is by throwing your own fiesta. Get a group of friends together and throw your own Cinco de Mayo party with Mexican food, music, decorations and a piñata for old times’ sake.  Make sure you get your friends involved in the Mexican Hat Dance. Say what! Yep, a traditional folk dance where you kick each foot one after the other. (Note: you’ll probably need to watch a YouTube video to master the basics.) What better way to celebrate Mexican culture right?

Mexican Hat Dance

Image from Flickr User: Brendan Lally

What to wear

Make sure you incorporate colors of the Mexican flag in your outfit. Think green, white and red. If you’re after something a little more spontaneous, then why not wear traditional Mexican clothes accompanied with a guitar or even some maracas to liven up your outfit. Shake, shake, shake!

traditional Mexican clothes

Image from Flickr User: Jorge Gonzalez

Put your sombrero on and celebrate one of Mexico’s most liveliest and colorful festivals in style. While a lot of the celebrations involve a drink in hand, let’s not forget the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo. It’s a chance to get together with friends and family, and appreciate Mexican heritage and pride. A reminder to stay strong and proud just like the Mexican soldiers did in Puebla.

 

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