Ed note: Like any U.S. holiday, Cinco de Mayo is a time to celebrate and spend money. Maybe that’s cynical. Or maybe you think I’m mistaken by calling it a “U.S. holiday.” Keep reading, and you’ll see why that’s the case and exactly how much we Americans spend each year. Leer en Español.
Cinco de Mayo is not just an opportunity to prepare your favorite recipe; it’s a great opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. But, do you know how it started or why it’s celebrated more widely in the U.S. than in Mexico? Do you know how much money we spend on this holiday?
Why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
Many people think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, but that’s on September 16. What really happened on May 5 is the Battle of Puebla – a fight between Mexico and France during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).
The Mexican army won the battle despite having a smaller army and poor equipment. The Battle of Puebla started being remembered every May 5.
The first celebration in the U.S. took place in California in the 1860s and has grown since that date. Over time, Cinco de Mayo has come to represent a celebration of Mexican culture and pride, surpassing any reference to the Battle of Puebla. The holiday has a particularly large celebration in the United States, with our vibrant Mexican and Mexican-American community.
Some interesting—and tasty—facts about Cinco de Mayo
Typical Cinco de Mayo dishes include tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and other delicious treats from Mexico. Did you know these interesting facts about favorite Cinco de Mayo traditions?
- We love avocados on Cinco de Mayo! According to the California Avocado Commission, Cinco de Mayo is one of the biggest days for avocado consumption with an estimated of 3 million pounds eaten during the holiday.
- Tortilla chips: You can’t have a good guacamole without the tortillas chips. Did you know that the triangle shaped tortilla chip was popularized by Rebecca Webb Carranza, in southwest Los Angeles, in the late 1940s? She started using the discarded tortillas form her tortilla manufacturing machine and fried them to prepare some snacks. The rest is history. By 2014, tortilla chips were one of the favorite snacks in the United States all year round, with sales of $3.74 billion U.S., just below potato chips and crackers.
- Frozen Margaritas! There are still debates about who invented the margarita, but what we do know for sure, is that it is a very popular drink on Cinco de Mayo. However, did you know that the most expensive ingredient in a margarita now is not the tequila? It’s the lime. About 97% of limes come from Mexico, and when the prices rise for some growers, it has a huge impact on the cost of limes here. So, squeeze those limes thoroughly to get the biggest bang for your buck when making margaritas this Cinco de Mayo.
Whether you want to honor the great history of the Battle of Puebla, or just because you love to celebrate Mexican culture and its contributions in the U.S., we wish you a happy Cinco de Mayo