Cinco de Mayo


In this episode, you'll learn how to use the very common expression BOTTOMS UP and all about CINCO DE MAYO - an annual celebration with mariachi music, parades and more.

American English Podcast

American English Podcast

By Shana Thompson

To ONLY listen to the story of Cinco de Mayo and its role in the United States, start listening at minute 9:15.

Let’s move on to the fun fact of the day, Cinco de Mayo. 

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated throughout the US. In fact, the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the world is in Los Angeles, California. But what is Cinco de Mayo? So in Spanish, it means the 5th of May or May 5th. In the US, Cinco de Mayo translates to margaritas, Tex-Mex, parties, parades and loosley, a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. Many Americans believe it’s Mexican Independence Day. It’s not.

According to, the origin of the holiday stems back to the Franco-Mexican war and one battle in particular, the Battle of Puebla. To make a long story short, the Mexican government at the time was going through some rough financial times. When they were unable to pay their debts to Spain, France and Britain. These countries came to Mexico demanding payment. Spain and Britain came to an agreement with Mexico. But Napoleon III, who ruled France at the time, wasn’t satisfied. He saw an opportunity to create a French regime in Mexico.

What came next? Battles began.

Obviously, Mexicans were not happy with the idea of France wanting to create a regime there, and they weren’t ready in terms of weaponry or experience to fight back. But there were people loyal to the Mexican government who were mentally ready to fight.

In the Battle of Puebla, the Mexicans were outnumbered six thousand to two thousand – or some sites say eight thousand to four thousand (I don’t think the exact number is known) – but somehow the outnumbered Mexicans managed to protect the gates to the capital and force the French troops to retreat.

It was a small victory in war, but it was an unexpected and impressive one. The general, General Zaragoza, who led the Mexicans, succeeded against France, who had one of the strongest armies at the time. His success in battle was hugely motivating for the resistance movement, and it was noteworthy enough that the municipality in Mexico, where the battle took place, was named after him.

So that’s a little bit heavy on history, but it brings about some questions. First of all, does Mexico celebrate Cinco de Mayo. 

Today, the battle is symbolically important in Puebla. The city of Puebla is now called the Puebla de Zaragoza, and they host an annual battle re-enactment. They have parades and other sorts of celebrations. Cities surrounding it as well.

Britannica claims there’s not a widespread celebration throughout Mexico on May 5th. In the United States, there is.

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Shana - ESL Teacher

Hi Everyone! I am an ESL teacher from California and the host of the American English Podcast. Learn more about me and my teaching experience here.

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