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Although Cinco de Mayo marks an important date in Mexican history, it is more commonly celebrated in the U.S., where Latino communities enjoy lively cultural festivities filled with music, dance, and cuisine. For an authentic Cinco de Mayo that honors Mexican traditions and stays true to the holiday’s origins, we’re sharing our top celebration tips for a fun, festive Cinco de Mayo!

  1. Know the History: On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army vanquished the French at the Battle of Puebla, a major victory for the Mexican government in their struggle for independence. While liberation from French occupation would not come until 1867, many Mexican-Americans still celebrate the anniversary of this battle, known as Cinco de Mayo, as a commemoration of Mexican heritage and history.
  2. Avoid wearing a sombrero if you are Anglo: Whether you intend to offend Mexican people doesn’t matter. This behavior will be interpreted by people factually stating that the sombrero is strongly associated with stereotypical depictions of Mexicans. It’s also inaccurate according to The Guadalajara Reporter, “some might argue that the classic image of a campesino wearing a sombrero while taking a nap has all too often been used to characterize Mexicans as lazy — a stigmatization that anyone who has lived in this country for a length of time will know is far from the truth … [today] only mariachis in urban areas wear sombreros in public and most Mexicans regard them as party pieces.”
  3. View a virtual fiesta: If you aren’t ready for crowds or your locale isn’t hosting a celebration, view one online. Search for carnivals, fiestas, and multi-day online events posted during the first week of May, with the largest held in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas. Ask your local Latin American cultural center about virtual events for a day of cultural discoveries and celebration.
  4. Appreciate Art: The U.S. states sharing a border with Mexico enjoy immense cultural enrichment thanks to the contributions of Mexican authors, artists, and activists. Research and appreciate the work of Mexican-Americans such as Sandra CisnerosDaphne Arthur, or Juan Delgado. For those in Austin, Texas, the Mexic-Arte Museum downtown is a great resource to discover new artists and exhibitions.
  5. Savor Latin Cuisine: Cinco de Mayo brings cultural awareness to Mexican traditions, including their flavorful dishes. Popular and authentic dishes appreciated on Cinco de Mayo include tacos, enchiladas, and chile rellenos. You can try Tacos al Pastor, prepared with pineapple, or Tacos de Bistec, which may be served with avocado and cheese. Enchiladas may be chicken, beef, or cheese and your choice of green or red sauce. Chiles rellenos, which originated from Puebla, are large, green poblano peppers stuffed with cheese or meat and then fried.
  6. Say Salud!  To quench your guest’s thirst, as a host, consider refreshing non-alcoholic beverages including Peñafiel, or Topo Chico sparkling water, fresh fruit juices, club soda, or Mexican Coke. While the holiday’s origins probably didn’t include alcohol, it’s part of some festivities. If you’re hosting, consider CoronaTecate, or Dos Equis, which are extremely popular Mexican beers. Recipes for festive tamarind margaritas, tequila sunrises, and cocktails can be found here. For your guests’ safety, serve alcohol in moderation, ask a responsible adult to observe guests at departure, and offer alternative methods of transportation.

Whether you’re watching a virtual cultural festival or dining on traditional Mexican fare, it’s important to understand the true meaning to warrant a festive experience. With Cinco de Mayo nearly upon us, experience Mexican culture with one of these festive ideas. And from all of us at Access to Culture, Felices fiestas!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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