International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Cinco de Mayo: Recipes and Traditions

Cinco de mayo dancers

Image Creative Commons by David

Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated in both Mexico and United States. Contrary to popular belief, however, it's not Mexican Independence Day. That day actually falls on September 16th. The May holiday is in celebration of a Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when Mexico was already an independent nation. That victory helped consolidate Mexico's national identity and was seen as a part of a larger fight against imperialism and for freedom.

In Mexico, the holiday is celebrated primarily in the state and city of Puebla, where the clash took place. There residents enjoy several days of parades, celebrations and reenactments of the original battle.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a larger significance for those of Mexican heritage. You might say that the 5th of May has become for Mexican-Americans what St. Patrick's Day is for the Irish. In recent years, this bright day in May is celebrated by Americans of all ethnic and national backgrounds with a festive spread of Mexican favorites and ample quantities of tasty beverages, especially cerveza and margaritas!

For any Cinco de Mayo meal, the focus should be on traditional Mexican fare: tacos, enchiladas, carne asada and the like. It's also a good idea to include one or two specialties of  the City of Puebla: mole poblano (poultry in chocolate-chile sauce), chiles en nogada (stuffed peppers in walnut cream sauce), or cemitas (Pueblan-style sandwiches).

Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Try these recipes for your Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Ceviche

Ceviche con choclo y cancha

(Latin citrus-marinated seafood)

Guacamole

Guacamole (Mexican avocado dip)

(Mexican avocado sauce and condiment)