What is Cinco de Mayo? Learn about the defeat of the French Army by Mexican soldiers.

What is Cinco de Mayo fiesta party festivities!
Printables for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta!

What is Cinco de Mayo? Que es Cinco de Mayo?

So what is Cinco de Mayo? This holiday is celebrated in Puebla in Mexico and in many US cities with large Mexican populations. The festival began as a regional celebration of the defeat of the French Army by Mexican soldiers at the battle of Puebla.

It is still a big celebration in Puebla and in Mexico city, with parades, fiestas and fireworks (and a visit from Marc Anthony last year!), but for the rest of Mexico it seems the anniversary is not such a big deal. Cinco de Mayo is, however, a major celebration in the United States. Some believe this is because the battle marked a change in the relationship between the United States and Mexico.

The theory is that from Mexico, Napoleon wanted to aid the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, which would have meant a longer, bloodier war. At that time, the French Army was the greatest military force on the globe so the victory was a huge achievement for the Mexican Army.

Whether this is the reason, Cinco de Mayo is undeniably a big deal in the United States and President Obama declared the celebration an opportunity to ‘pay tribute to our shared heritage and our future partnership.’

Cinco de Mayo, 1901 poster

By SMU Central University Libraries, via Wikimedia Commons

So how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Whether or not you are of Mexican heritage, Cinco de Mayo is a chance to celebrate all things Mexican! From wonderful food to colorful traditions, crafts and music, it’s time to party!

Mexican food & drink

Mole Poblano is traditionally served on Cinco de Mayo and legend has it that the dish originates from Puebla. The story goes that two nuns were surprised by a visitor. Not being cooks they took a mortar and pestle and ground together all the ingredients that they could find – tomatoes, chocolate and chillies and then simmered the mix until it thickened into a sauce, now known as Mole.

What is Cinco de Mayo? Traditional paper crafts:

There is a rich Mexican tradition of paper crafting. Pinatas, papel picado and paper flowers are important in the festivities of Cinco de Mayo as well as Dia de los Muertos. We’ve put together video tutorials showing you how to make your own mexican paper flowers and papel picado crepe paper garlands.

They are surprisingly fun and easy to make. This year we also had fun making mini pinatas and lucha libre paper masks – you can find the free printable templates and tutorials here on the Happythought site.

A battle re-enactment!

The battle of Cinco de Mayo has been re-enacted since the 1930s in Puebla and  Peñón de los Baños, Mexico City. Men dress as Mexican and French soldiers and generals, women dress as soldaderas, who as well cooking and looking after the soldiers, fought alongside them. Why not stage your own re-enactment?

If you have and feedback or comments we would love to hear from you. Also included in our Cinco de Mayo offerings are Free printable Luche Libre masks, some ‘Cinco de Mayo Coloring in pages‘ and a great ‘How to make a pinata tutorial‘ plus the free template.

hoja de actividades worksheets classes homeschool

Cinco de Mayo worksheets

In Spanish and English, 10 printable worksheets for schools, home schools and learning centres.

DIY craft paper hoja de actividades worksheets aprender y celebrar

Two Introduction pages – ‘What is Cinco de Mayo?’ and ‘How to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?’
Three questions and answers – Map of Mexico, Crossword puzzle, Find the missing words.
Word search – 12 words to find.
Mexican flag – Color-in and make a Mexican flag.
Three color-in worksheets – A mariachi, a luchador and a piñata shaped as a donkey.

Our worksheets contain activities and questions about Cinco de Mayo appropriate for children at the level of kindergarten, elementary, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade and middle school. All Q&A worksheets include answers. The ten printable PDF sheets are designed for teachers and parents. We have produced them in black and white so that they don’t use too much toner when printed or copied.

classroom works hojas de actividades templates PDF

Hojas de actividades

hoja de actividades activitiess aprender y celebrar

We hope you enjoy this post on Cinco de Mayo! If so, please give us a little love on by liking us on facebook, pinning us on pinterest or following us on twitter.

One Response to How to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

  1. hello, The Day of the Death is coming, and here in Puerto Vallarta, Jal, Mexico the people has forget about our tradition, but around the web I realize that the american and website have so much information about November 2nd.

    I like to congrats to both of you, because do the masks and the “Altar” also is the first time that I read something true about 5 de Mayo. It’s not our National Party that is September 15. Just Puebla celebrate it.

    Congratulations both of you.

    I’m happy because mexican traditions are great and need to be know by other people and need that the mexican turn back and realize it and maybe celebrate Halloween but don’t forget that is our culture.


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