Delicioso Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate this festive Mexican holiday with special dishes, fiesta games, mariachi music and a pinata!

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "Fifth of May") is celebrated by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. The holiday commemorates the victory of a Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragosa, over the strong, more populous, and better-equipped French army at the Battle of Puebla ("Batalla de Puebla") on May 5, 1862. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated by the French force, the May 5 battle became a symbol of Mexican unity, pride, and patriotism.

Cinco de Mayo is sometimes confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated September 16 and is considered the more important holiday in Mexico. On the other hand, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on a larger scale in the United States by Mexican-Americans than it is in Mexico. Perhaps this is because General Zaragosa was born in Texas while it was still part of Mexico—and is therefore considered by many to be the first Chicano hero. People of Mexican descent in the U.S. celebrate with festivals, parades, speeches, and folk dancing.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Throw a fiesta with Mexican foods, mariachi music, and your very own piñata!

  • Blow up a large balloon, tie it with string and hang it up outside (or somewhere you won't mind getting messy). Make papier-mâché paste with about 1 c. flour, ½ c. water, and a little white glue. Soak torn (not cut) newspaper strips in the paste, squeeze off excess, and lay them over the balloon. Continue adding strips, slightly overlapping them, to cover the entire balloon, except a small opening at the top. Add a second layer, and let dry 24 hours. 
  • The next day, add two more layers of papier-mâché, then let dry 24 hours.
  • Now it's time to decorate your piñata. Let your kids glue on pieces of colored tissue paper in any pattern they desire.
  • If the balloon is still inflated, pop it. Punch a hole on either side of the opening that you left at the top. Loop a piece of string through the holes and tie it in a knot. Tie a rope to the sting. Finally, insert candies, fruit, small toys and books through the opening.
  • Hang your piñata on a hook or over a tree branch. Blindfold a child, spin him around once or twice, and let him or her whack at the piñata with a long stick. Have an adult pull on the rope to move the piñata around to make it more difficult. 
  • When the piñata breaks, everyone gets to share the goodies!


For More Information and Ideas
The historical significance of Cinco de Mayo is related at

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