Cinco de Mayo is not as widely celebrated in Mexico as one may think and is considered a non obligatory holiday. Students are allowed to miss school, but the vacation laws for banks and government offices depend on each state.* The importance of Cinco de Mayo in Mexico is not as grand as the Independence Day but they do celebrate with family get togethers with large feasts and fireworks.
THE TRADITIONAL REENACTMENT OF PUEBLA
Located only a few hours from Mexico City, Puebla, the city of the famous Cinco de Mayo battle, is the fourth largest city in the country and also host to the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in Mexico, which commemorates the holiday with a civic parade including students, military, floats and more than 20,000 people.* As with other cities in Mexico, The parades of Puebla and the Cinco de Mayo parades in other cities,d pay tribute to the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives for the freedom of their country, and pledge allegiance to national pride and celebrate culture of Mexican ancestry.**The city also hosts an annual reenactment of the battle where people dress up as both Mexican and French troops with the Mexican side equipped with machetes and old rifles. Traditional dances, games, foods, mariachi music and colorful decorations are also included to set the appropriate mood.*** Musical bands at the parades take months of preparation and rehearsal to compete with each other and find out who is the best.
Every city in Mexico has a Zocalo, or downtown, and this is where the celebration takes place. At the main square in downtown there is music playing and vibrant colors are decorating the streets.** It is common for families and children to arrive first followed by the younger adult crowd whose main purpose is to celebrate by attending late night parties. Traditional food is served as streets are aligned with food stalls days before the event. Local restaurants serve the most traditional Mexican cuisine like Mole Poblano, a spicy thick sauce that comes from a blend of over 40 ingredients that is spread on turkey or chicken, and Mexican style red rice. At the end of the night everybody gets noisy with whistles, rattles, and horns and the traditional cheers of “Viva Mexico!!”**
TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS USED ON CINCO DE MAYO
In Mexico the colors of the national flag are the cornerstone of all Cinco de Mayo celebrations and are used in creative ways. If a family is hosting a Cinco de Mayo party for guests then having colorful dishes to serve food and setting them around the table sets the festive mood while Mexican flags are hung outside or inside their homes on either a flagpole or a window. Sombreros and maracas serve a double purpose as a decoration or a costume, as a decoration maracas can be placed in a basket, on a table for guests to use or hung on a window with fishing lines. Sombreros can be affordably purchased at party stores and hung on walls for decoration or be worn and handed out to guests at a party.**** Paper flowers made out of tissue paper and green pipe cleaners, are primarily used for Day of the Dead but are appropriate for Cinco de Mayo as well and can be placed on a table or handed out to guests to take home.**** More traditionally, decorative artifacts in Mexico are paper cut-out banner shaped in different traditional images suchs as sombreros and burros that can be purchased at stores or hand cut by anyone.**** On Cinco de Mayo it is common for people to use these banners by making a large amount of them and hanging them across windows and mantles.
*Gomexico.about.com, “Cinco de Mayo in Puebla”, by Suzanne Barbezat
**Inside-mexico.com, “Cinco de Mayo”, by May Herz
***Buzzle.com, “Cinco de Mayo: Traditions and Activities”
*****Ehow.com, “Traditional Cinco de Mayo Decorations”, Rebekah Martin