As we learn each year and then promptly forget—maybe it’s the tequila—Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s unexpected victory over the French at The Battle of Puebla. Mexico had been invaded by France, Spain, and England during 1861 over some unpaid debts. England and Spain eventually departed, but France was determined to establish a monarchy. Mexico had other ideas, though, and a small, poorly trained group of Mexican troops led by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a large, heavily armed group of French soldiers in epic fashion. The victory was small, yet monumental, and it led to France’s eventual exit from the country.
Today, Americans, and particularly Texans, have latched on to the holiday as an excuse to eat and drink to whatever the heart desires—and, okay, take in some culture. It’s a much bigger deal here than in Mexico.
Here in town, this Sunday, Miller Outdoor Theatre is hosting a Cinco de Mayo Festival featuring dancers and other performers on stage leading up to Los Lobos taking the stage in the evening. Another option is to grab a group of friends on Tuesday and pedal the holiday in with Houston Pub Crawl. The beer-guzzling-meets-exercise party is hosting a special Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl that will stop at multiple Midtown bars. You get the fun without the beer gut, which is a difficult deal to turn down.
Farther afield, there’s San Antonio’s historic Market Square, which will feature music, Tex-Mex, and folklórico dancing on Tuesday. And even farther afield, Denver pays homage to Latino culture with a Celebrate Culture Festival at Central Civic Park. The two-day event includes international performers, a green chili cook-off, chihuahua races, a parade and a taco-eating contest.