Cinco de Mayo

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12298

Do you celebrate holidays? Do you know the story of the holidays your culture observes? Learning those meanings helps you understand the history of countries. Learn the meaning of this Mexican fiesta!


World, World Cultures

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What are the most important national holidays in your country? How do you celebrate them? More important, why do you celebrate them, and on certain dates? How might you relate to other countries' holidays?

People celebrate holidays for many different reasons.

Some of the oldest traditions in history are those that celebrate nature. Holidays like Thanksgiving can be traced to harvest holidays, for example. They come towards the end of the farming season. Painted eggs are popular at Easter time because they were used to signify the beginning of the spring season and all the beautiful new life that appears during this time.

People mark other holidays and traditions because of events that happened in the past. The Fourth of July is the date on which a group of important American colonists got together and signed a letter to the King of England telling him that he was no longer their leader. November 11th is observed in many countries of the world. It is the date on which one of the worst wars ever finally ended — World War I.

National holidays are the holidays that have special meaning to the people of a certain country. They often mark important events in the country’s history, like the days that the country became free from another country.

Mexico has about eleven national holidays. One of those holidays is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. It is more widely known as Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May. Can you guess the date on which it is celebrated?

Learn more about this holiday using the sources below. As you read and watch, write down the answers to the following questions:

  • What event happened on May 5 that Mexicans still celebrate?
  • Why do you think that event is still important to many Mexicans today?
  • Why do some Americans celebrate on this date, too?

Now, examine these sources and collect your information:

  • Cinco De Mayo: Fiesta Fun! courtesy of National Geographic Kids
  • Cinco De Mayo: A Celebration of Mexican Heritage | History (History):

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Share the information you found with your parent or teacher, then discuss these questions together:

  • What lesson does the story of the Battle of Puebla teach?
  • How might that lesson still be important or useful to people these days?
  • Can you think of any other events in history that have the same message?

Many of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations are not really related to the events that happened on that day. Some use the holiday as another excuse to eat and drink!

In the Got It? section, start planning a party that reminds people of this important history!

Dancers at the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington, D.C.

Image by dbking, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.

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