cinco de mayo, sombrero, moroccas

When you think of Cinco de Mayo, what comes to mind?

Festive food? Delicious drinks? Mariachi music? While traditional meals and lively celebrations are excellent ways to celebrate the day, have you ever wondered why so many people are toasting margaritas on May 5th?

A Little History…

Let’s take stroll back to 1861. Contrary to popular belief that Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexican Independence Day, Mexico had already gained independence more than 50 years before. However, the country had fallen on hard financial times which forced the president (Benito Juarez) to default on his debts to European countries. France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to collect reimbursement.  Although Britain and Spain negotiated and withdrew, French leader Napoleon III had dreams of establishing Mexico as a dependent empire.  Hence began the Franco-Mexican war from 1861 to 1867. And while the French eventually did gain brief control of the country, there was a surprising turn of events May 5, 1862 (Cinco de Mayo) at the “Battle of Puebla.”

On this day, 6,000 well-armed French soldiers set out to attack the Mexican town of Puebla de Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Mexican General Zaragoza had rounded up a smaller but mightier army that defended their country so courageously…the French actually retreated! Although this fight didn’t win the war, it was a gallant victory for Mexico and encouraged patriots to continue to resist until Juarez regained control in 1867.

 Today’s Celebration

Surprisingly, the holiday of Cinco de Mayo has become more of a widespread celebration in America than in Mexico. While still an elaborate event in Puebla, many U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, mark the day with festivals, parades and concerts…and people all over the country celebrate in their own unique way.

Whether you’re enjoying events in your own area or simply serving tacos for dinner tonight, can help make you make the most of your Cinco de Mayo celebration. We have menu suggestions for traditional treats and creative cocktails at and, of course, a whole collection of cards to help you share the spirit of Cinco de Mayo with your amigos!