For Mexico and the United States, next Monday is the annual celebration of Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May). Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in honor of the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862, when an army of about two thousand Mexican men won against an army of approximately six thousand French soldiers. Many people mistake Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican independence, but that was actually declared more than fifty years before the Battle of Puebla.
In Mexico, the fifth of May is usually observed with political speeches and battle reenactments. This day is recognized as a bigger holiday in the United States, with cities hosting annual parades and festivals as a way to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. If you are part of the large Mexican population residing in the United States, or you just want to celebrate the Mexican culture that has added dimension and warmth to America’s melting pot, you should definitely check out one of these fun festivals that all are geared toward helping the people and communities that they are hosted by:
Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
This two day family event in Phoenix, Arizona, is the largest celebration in the southwest. The 2014 festival starts on May 3rd and marks the 21st anniversary of this celebration. There will be family carnival rides and games, an abundance of food, activities, ballet folklore, amateur Olympic style boxing, and live music performances (including Grammy award winning Los Lonely Boys). Along with all of the activities, there will also be over $500,000 in youth scholarships awarded to students in Phoenix looking to further their education.
San Francisco Cinco de Mayo Festival
This 10th annual festival, hosted by Mission Neighborhood Centers’ will be held on May 3rd. Approximately seven to ten thousand attendees are expected to join in this celebration that will host the very best of Mexican and Latin American cultures. There will be a large assortment of foods, music, dancing, and artistry. For the children, there will be a petting zoo, arts and crafts, and there will be a station set up that will let them try out musical instruments, such as: the Latin percussion, guitar, violin, cello, accordion, and trumpet. Proceeds from this event will benefit Mission Neighborhood Centers, who have been providing multi-generational, multi-cultural safety-net services to children, youth, seniors, and families throughout San Francisco for over fifty years.
Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo
This year marks the 31st annual celebration of Cinco de Mayo in Old Town and is the largest event of its kind in southern California. This three day festival starts on Friday, May 2nd. There will be four live music stages, two cantina beer gardens, a low rider car show, a childrens area with plenty of activities, and ballet folklore competitions. This event is hosted by the Fiesta and Historic Old Town Community Foundation and is intended to support the history, diversity, and Hispanic heritage programs of the Old Town school program and California state parks.
All of these festivals are held to be social, fun, entertaining, and are meant to support community outreach. If you have family or friends in Mexico, I suggest giving them a call (with your calling card, of course) to catch up, and then attending one of these festivals to surround yourself with the authentic music and delicious food that will remind you of Mexico.