Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for “Fifth of May,” is a popular holiday celebrated in the United States and Mexico. While often associated with margaritas and Mexican cuisine, the origins of Cinco de Mayo are rooted in a significant moment in Mexican history.
The holiday commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, a triumph against all odds that has become a symbol of Mexican resistance and pride. In addition to its historical significance, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a cultural celebration of Mexican heritage, with vibrant parades, traditional dances, and delicious food and drinks enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.
What Is Cinco De Mayo & Why Mexicans Celebrate It?
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This battle was a significant moment in Mexican history as the Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French forces, who were considered one of the most powerful armies in the world at the time. Although the victory did not end the war, it was a symbol of Mexican resistance and pride.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated primarily in Mexico and the United States, and is recognized as a cultural celebration of Mexican heritage. In Mexico, the holiday is celebrated mainly in the state of Puebla with parades, speeches, and reenactments of the Battle of Puebla. However, it is not considered a federal holiday, and the celebrations are not as elaborate as other holidays such as Independence Day.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a popular cultural celebration of Mexican heritage. Many cities hold parades, festivals, and concerts, and people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate with traditional Mexican food, drinks, and music.
It has also become an opportunity to educate others about Mexican culture and history. While it is sometimes confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, Cinco de Mayo remains an important day in Mexican history and a celebration of Mexican pride and heritage.
6 Most Traditional Cinco De Mayo Recipes
Cinco De Mayo, the celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, is a time for vibrant colors, lively music, and of course, delicious food. From spicy salsas to refreshing margaritas, this holiday is all about indulging in traditional Mexican cuisine.
Whether you’re hosting a festive gathering or simply looking to add some Mexican flair to your meals, these five recipes are a must-try for any Cinco De Mayo celebration. So, grab your apron, turn up the mariachi music, and get ready to savor the flavors of Mexico.
Recipe 1: Tacos al Pastor
This dish is a quintessential Mexican favorite, featuring marinated pork cooked on a vertical spit, sliced and served in a soft corn tortilla with pineapple, onion, and cilantro. The marinade usually includes chilies, achiote, garlic, and vinegar, which gives the pork a delicious smoky and tangy flavor.
- In a blender, combine the pineapple, onion, garlic, chipotle chilies, cumin, oregano, salt, black pepper, vinegar, orange juice, and achiote paste. Blend until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the pork slices and the pineapple marinade. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Preheat a grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Thread the pork slices onto skewers and grill until cooked through and slightly charred, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Warm the corn tortillas on a hot skillet or griddle.
- To assemble the tacos, place some pork slices on each tortilla, and top with chopped cilantro and diced onion. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!
See how to make Tacos Al Pastor here. (Recipe Video)
Recipe 2: Beef Tacos
Alongside traditional foods and cuisines such as tortillas, tamales and salsas.. Tacos are one of the most recognizable food items linked to a countries food culture and that country is “Mexico”.
See how to make beef taco’s from scratch here. (Recipe Video)
Recipe 3: Guacamole
Made with mashed avocado, lime juice, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, guacamole is a classic Mexican dip that is perfect for any occasion. This creamy and spicy dip is usually served with tortilla chips or as a topping on tacos or burritos.
- Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl.
- Mash the avocado with a fork or a potato masher until it is mostly smooth.
- Add in the diced onion, tomato, cilantro, and garlic. Mix well.
- Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos or burritos.
See how to make Guacamole at home. (Recipe Video)
Recipe 4: Chiles Rellenos
This dish features whole, roasted poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, ground beef or pork, and spices, then battered and fried until crispy. The dish is typically served with tomato sauce or salsa and is a delicious and hearty option.
- Roast the poblano peppers on a grill or under the broiler until the skin is charred and blistered.
- Put the peppers in a plastic bag and seal it for 10-15 minutes to loosen the skin.
- Peel the skin off the peppers and make a small slit down the middle of each pepper. Remove the seeds and veins.
- Stuff the peppers with the shredded cheese.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and then beat the egg yolks until they become pale yellow.
- Fold the egg yolks into the egg whites until fully incorporated.
- Dip each pepper in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and then fry them in oil until golden brown.
- Serve hot with salsa or tomato sauce. Enjoy!
How to make Chiles Rellenos recipe video. (Recipe Video)
Recipe 5: Tamales
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with masa, which is a type of dough made from corn, filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, or vegetables, and steamed or boiled in corn husks. They are usually served with salsa or guacamole and are a staple of Mexican cuisine.
- Soak corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes to soften.
- In a large bowl, mix masa harina, baking powder, and salt together.
- Add vegetable shortening or lard to the mixture and use your hands to mix well.
- Slowly add warm water or broth to the mixture, stirring constantly until a soft dough is formed.
- Pat the corn husks dry and spread about 2 tablespoons of the masa dough onto each husk, leaving a 1-inch border at the top and bottom.
- Add your desired filling in the center of the masa dough.
- Roll up the husk tightly, folding in the ends to enclose the filling.
- Place tamales in a steamer basket and steam for about 1 hour.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
How to make authentic Mexican Tamales. (Recipe Video)
Recipe 6: Margarita (Cocktail)
This classic Mexican cocktail is made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. It can be served frozen or on the rocks and can be made with various flavors such as strawberry, mango, or watermelon. It’s the perfect drink to pair with any of the traditional Cinco de Mayo dishes.
- Rim the edge of a glass with salt (optional).
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add tequila, lime juice, and triple sec to the shaker.
- Shake well until the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is chilled.
- Strain the mixture into the prepared glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a lime wedge (optional).
How to make a Margarita.. (Recipe Video)