If there’s one thing Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day have in common, it’s that many people know these are days of celebration, without really knowing what the days actually symbolize.
After all, ANY reason to drink, eat and be merry is understandably a good one in the eyes of many.
But with Cinco de Mayo once again here, people might not know there are some fun facts and things to know about the annual celebration.
Here are five interesting tidbits you might not have realized about Cinco de Mayo.
1. Cinco de Mayo honors a military victory, not Mexican independence.
The day commemorates Mexican forces beating French troops at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It was an unlikely and important military win for the country’s morale, but it wasn’t the event that gave the country its independence from Spain.
That came on Sept. 16, 1810.
2. The official dish of Cinco de Mayo might surprise you.
For all the fine and diverse cuisine that’s usually prepared for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, you might not know what the official “dish of the day” really is.
It’s a dish called mole poblano, and it’s a thick sauce from the state of Puebla that is made with various chilis and spices, fruit, nuts, Mexican chocolate and seeds. It is commonly served over meat.
3. Get ready for lots of tequila and avocado consumption.
There’s probably no greater occasion for avocado growers and tequila makers than Cinco de Mayo. According to the California Avocado Commission, roughly 81 million pounds of avocados are consumed in the U.S. during Cinco de Mayo.
As for tequila, the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis said that more tequila is consumed in the U.S. than on any other holiday during Cinco de Mayo.
4. The world’s largest annual Cinco de Mayo celebration might be in … Denver?
While it might be assumed that the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebrations are somewhere in Texas, Florida, Arizona or California, states near Mexico or that have heavy populations of people with Mexican heritage -- that’s not the case.
The biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration each year is in Denver, Colorado, where nearly half a million people flock to a two-day festival in the city’s Civic Center Park. If Cinco de Mayo doesn’t fall on a weekend, it usually takes place the first weekend after the day. The celebration began in 1987 and has grown into more than just a one-day gathering of a few people.
5. Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico.
In general, Cinco de Mayo seems to be a bigger deal in the U.S. than it is in Mexico, where it’s not observed as a federal holiday.
However, schools are generally off for the day, so that allows the kids and teachers to at least partake in some celebrations.