Cinco de Mayo: Unique Traditions
Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is the day Mexicans and Americans celebrate Mexican heritage and pride — but it means different things to different people and with that comes different traditions. Here are 6 places where they have unique traditions to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
Background Much like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that originated in one country (Mexico) and is now celebrated all over the world. Cinco de Mayo was founded to commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over the French in the town of Puebla in 1862. According to the University of California in Los Angeles, the news and excitement about the win spread among Mexicans all the way up the California coast. Over the last 150 years or so, it’s become a celebration of Mexican culture in the United States and beyond, but in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is only celebrated in the town of Puebla.
San Diego, CA Just north of the Mexican border, San Diego celebrates Cinco de Mayo as if it were Puebla. For three days, San Diego shuts down the Historic Old Town area to celebrate all things Mexican. Traditional folklorico dancers will perform in addition to Lucha Libre performances. And if that isn’t enough, there is enough Mexican food and drink to go around several times.
St. Paul, MN In Minnesota, one of St. Paul’s largest Latino communities, District del Sol, holds a grand Cinco de Mayo celebration every year. Among the events at the fiesta is a jalapeno eating contest. It’s held in three waves broken up by three low rider car shows.
Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles claims to have the biggest Cinco de Mayo festival in the United States. It covers about twelve square blocks in downtown LA. About 500,000 people turn out for the Fiesta Broadway every year for food and fun and to honor Mexican pride. What’s different about this fiesta is it’s celebrated in April rather than May, the holiday’s namesake.
Tokyo, Japan In Tokyo, they celebrate what event organizers call the biggest Cinco de Mayo party in all of Japan at the Yoyogi Park. 100,000 people are expected at the fiesta this year to nosh on tacos, listen to cover bands play La Bamba and drink Tecate beer. The party starts May 3rd and goes all the way through May 6th.
Chandler, AZ Chandler, AZ is famous for the Chihuahua Race held every Cinco de Mayo. The run lasts about six seconds and immediately following the race, they crown a king and queen Chihuahua. If you’re not into tiny dogs getting dressed up and running, and beers and tacos are more your thing, there are plenty of parties to join near Chandler.
Vancouver, Canada In Vancouver, they take the celebration sky high. The annual tradition involves jumping from an airplane. The skydiving event is two-fold: they celebrate Mexican culture and kick off the skydiving season in Canada.
Puebla, Mexico In the Mexican town of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo celebrations start in April and run through the second week in May. The town hosts an international festival that draws about a million people to see and hear performances throughout the town. In addition to the festival, Puebla also holds a fair much like a county fair you’d find in the United States. There are carnival rides, bull fights, concerts, and plenty of food and drinks.
On Cinco de Mayo, you don’t have to go far to celebrate Mexican pride, but wherever you are, it’s sure to be a party you won’t want to forget.