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It’s Cinco de Mayo season, and celebrations are scheduled across the US, but in Mexico, it’s not as widely observed

Odessa High School members performing (Melina Conway/Shutterstock)

In the United States, preparations are underway for Cinco de Mayo. On Sunday, May 5, venues across the country are planning music, all-day happy hours, and taco deals for a celebration that has origins often misunderstood and is not widely acknowledged in Mexico.

In the U.S., the date is mostly seen as a celebration of Mexican American culture dating back to the 1800s in California. Festivities typically include parades, street food, block parties, mariachi competitions, and baile folklórico, where dancers twirl in shiny ribbons and vibrant, ruffled dresses.

For Americans, regardless of Mexican ancestry, it’s a day to enjoy tequila shots with salt and lime, and indulge in tortilla chips covered in melted orange cheddar—a combination not commonly found in Mexico.

Folklorico dancers (Temba Daniels/Getty Images)

However, the holiday has faced criticism due to its focus on drinking and eating, with some marketers capitalizing on its festive spirit and some celebrants embracing offensive stereotypes like fake mustaches and oversized straw sombreros.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican troops’ 1862 victory over invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla. Led by Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, Mexican soldiers achieved a significant emotional victory despite being outnumbered and facing better-equipped French troops.

Each year in Puebla, central Mexico, historical reenactments and parades honor this inspirational triumph, with participants dressed in uniforms representing both French and Mexican armies.

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