What Is Cinco de Mayo?
Traditions and Symbols of Cinco de Mayo
By Cara J. Stevens
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A sombrero is a Mexican hat with a high, pointed top and a large brim. It is mainly used to keep out the hot sun. It is made of straw or felt, and is mostly worn out in the countryside or as part of a folkloric costume. It’s basic design was adopted and modified to become the cowboy hat.
Ballet Folklorico (Baile Folklórico in Spanish)
This is the traditional folk dance of Mexico. It is a colorful expression of Mexican culture and tradition. Accompanied by lively mariachi music and bright, colorful costumes, Ballet Folklorico is a part of most Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
The Mexican Flag (Bandera Nacional in Spanish)
The national flag is rectangular with three vertical stripes, green, white and red, with the National Coat of Arms (an eagle perched on a blooming nopal or cactus) in the center.
Fiestas in America
Although it falls on May 5, Cinco de Mayo is often a weekend-long or even a week-long celebration. With the underlying message of freedom and liberty, Cinco de Mayo parties are focused on music, dancing, food and fun!
Most Cinco de Mayo celebrations include mariachi bands, dancing in the streets and brightly colored costumes. Due to their ties to Mexican culture and large Mexican/American populations, the biggest celebrations in the US are in the Southwest. Los Angeles is home to a huge celebration at El Pueblo de Los Angeles. "There is music, dancing, entertainment and great food," says Frank Damon, President of Las Angelitas del Pueblo, of the two-day festival. “People from all over Southern California come to celebrate this holiday. It is really one of the best festivals at El Pueblo held during the year, as adults and children alike partake in the very festive atmosphere held on the Plaza of El Pueblo, which spills out onto the adjoining streets.”
Another big festival takes place in San Marcos, Texas, home to the statewide Menudo cook-off. Menudo the dish, not to be confused with the 80’s boy band, is a traditional Mexican stew. There is a parade, a pageant, dance performances and big headline musicians to add to the three-day festivities.
One of the largest celebrations in the world takes place each year in downtown Los Angeles, home to one of the biggest Latino populations in the United States. According to its organizers, the Los Angeles AT&T Fiesta Broadway covers "36 square-blocks in the heart of one of the most diverse city in the world and draws over 500,000 guests who experience a unique Los Angeles cultural tradition." It features live music performances from award-winning artists as well as games, food and activities.