Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Mexico include several days of concerts, lectures, and children's programs leading up to May 5th in Puebla. The parade itself is led by the Mexican army in tanks and humvees.
In a neighborhood next to the airport in Mexico City, families of some descendants of the original 5 de mayo de 1862 battle make up their own costumes and hold a sort of combination parade and street party.
Ask about the history behind these celebrations, and a few may be able to tell you that the Mexicans defeated an invading French army on that date in 1862. Beyond that — except maybe in Puebla — general knowledge of the circumstances becomes sketchy. Why were the French there? What happened next? Did the French just go away? Many teachers in the U.S. still tell their classes that May fifth is Mexican Independence Day, which is dead wrong.
There are Mexicans these days who have never attended a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The holiday has taken a back seat to the many saints' days and other festivals.
The growth of celebrations in the Uni...