Cinco De Mayo: What Every American Should Know

May 4, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Cinco De Mayo, the real story: A group of actors reenact the 1862 Battle of Puebla to commemorate their victory over the French Army, in Mexico City on May 5, 2008. (Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images)
Cinco De Mayo, the real story: A group of actors reenact the 1862 Battle of Puebla to commemorate their victory over the French Army, in Mexico City on May 5, 2008. (Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images)
As Cinco De Mayo draws near Americans look toward Mexican culture to celebrate the unofficial holiday with ethnic food, drinks, and decorations.

Some Americans think of Cinco De Mayo as a “Mexican Independence Day,” which is actually Sept. 16. The reality is that Cinco De Mayo is in remembrance of the Mexican militia's victory against the French military on May 5, 1862. Cinco De Mayo is Spanish for the 5th of May. It is not a national holiday in the United States, though many Americans believe it should be.

The French arrived at the Mexican border following the Mexican Civil War, only to be defeated by an alliance of American and Mexican soldiers. The historical meaning of Cinco De Mayo is to celebrate the freedom for the people of Mexico. American involvement in the battles along with the fact that one of the major Mexican generals was born in Texas, adds to American participation in the celebration of the 5th of May.

Americans have been shopping for more Mexican food ingredients in anticipation of Cinco De Mayo. A report from My Web Grocer shows that jalapeno peppers and cheese sales have increased more than 70 percent in the past week. The sale of avocados, limes, and refried beans increased more than 30 percent in the past week as well.

Parties will be thrown from New York to Los Angeles as a warm-up for the outdoor party season. In Los Angles massive block parties are being held in the city while New York is arranging a multitude of street fairs.

The United Nations official holiday will also bring increased security on college campuses along with DUI checkpoints across the nation. Increased consumption of alcohol comes with the holiday, traditionally in the form of Margaritas, a tequila and lime juice cocktail.

“In effort to keep the streets of Los Angeles safe during the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, the LAPD will conduct … sobriety checkpoints during the upcoming week,” said the Los Angeles Police Department in a press release.