Kiss and Makeup: Know Your Holiday Traditions

Let’s face it, we can all use a reason to celebrate these days and some of us will take every chance we can get. It only stands to reason that if you celebrate every day including Tres de Mayo and Quattro de Mayo then you’re probably going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo as well.

Before you start buying party favors and inviting guests you should probably know what Cinco de Mayo is all about. Let’s start with what it isn’t. It isn’t the Day of the Dead so save all that elaborate makeup for Halloween. It’s also not Mexican Independence Day. And it sure as heck isn’t a celebration of five different kinds of mayonnaise.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage. It commemorates the date of the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is also known as Battle of Puebla Day.

The U.S. celebration of the holiday began in California in 1863 as an expression of solidarity with Mexico against the French. By the 1930s, the holiday spread and was considered an opportunity to celebrate Mexican identity, promote cultural awareness, and build community.

Celebrations and observances

Cinco de Mayo is a colorful, inclusive festival. It started as a way to celebrate Mexican heritage, and it is now widely celebrated in the U.S. Celebrations are prevalent in cities that have significant Mexican populations and ancestry, especially in the south and southwest.

American celebrations of Cinco de Mayo feature parades and parties including Mariachi bands, Mexican folk music, dancing, Mexican and Mexican-American cuisine, Mexican-inspired cocktails, and costumes.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Russ Kavalhuna
President
Henry Ford College

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