Cinco de Mayo, (Spanish: “Fifth of May”) also called Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, holiday celebrated in parts of Mexico and the United States in honour of a military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on Thursday, May 5, 2022. Although Mexico did achieve a major victory against the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, this success was more of a much-needed morale booster rather than a strategic win.
Although the day is celebrated in the city of Puebla (where the epic victory occurred) with military parades and a smattering of other festivities in the street, Cinco de Mayo is not considered to be a major holiday in the rest of Mexico—save the occasional battle re-enactment. In fact, Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger deal in the United States, particularly in places with large Mexican communities. In Mexico, the holiday is not recognized at the federal level. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, passed in 1933 to improve relations with Latin American countries, paved the way for Cinco de Mayo to become a more mainstream American holiday. That said, Californians had jumped on the Cinco de Mayo bandwagon far sooner, due to the large Mexican immigrant population in the state.
Cinco de Mayo is typically honored across the United States with jubilant street festivals that attract sizable crowds. It’s easy enough to locate a taco vendor, score a margarita or indulge in a burrito (preferably one the size of your face) on Cinco de Mayo—but you might be surprised to know that none of these Mexican fare favorites are considered to be the official dish of Cinco de Mayo. For a more authentic celebration of the holiday, opt for a dish that features mole poblano instead: This rich, dark brown sauce—made with Mexican chocolate and a boatload of spices—boasts incredibly bold flavor and a divine balance of texture. Mole Poblano hails from (you guessed it) the Mexican city of Puebla where the historic battle victory occurred.
As you might expect, some American cities hold bigger celebrations than others when it comes to Cinco de Mayo. So where can you find the best bash on May 5th? Head to Los Angeles, where festivities take over both Olvera Street and Broadway; Chicago and Houston have similarly raucous celebrations—the former boasts a parade in the Pilsen area of the city (with all the trappings of a solid Cinco de Mayo event), while a host of Houston businesses get in on the action with holiday specials.