On May 5, 1862 the Mexican army defeated invading French forces at the city of Puebla. The ragtag Mexican soldiers triumphed over the better-equipped European power, beating them back in an unexpected underdog victory. 

The country’s then-President Benito Juárez declared May 5th to be a day of festivity and national pride for Mexicans that continues to be celebrated to this day in Hispanic communities across North America. While Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Canada tend to be more modest than those conducted in the United States or Mexico, it’s still an opportunity to learn about and celebrate Latin American culture and enjoy sumptuous Mexican cuisine. 

The Best of Cinco de Mayo Food and Drink

It just isn’t Cinco de Mayo without excellent Mexican cuisine on hand! Many Cinco de Mayo parties will have nacho platters with pica de gallo salsa, sour cream, and guacamole – red, white and green being the colours of the Mexican flag. Additionally, a favourite Cinco de Mayo food item are tamales, corn pastries wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and filled with meats, beans and cheese. Tamales are usually served with pico de gallo salsa but there are plenty of ways to get creative with fillings and trimmings. 

After the main course, it’s traditional to serve a tres leches cake, a rich concoction made with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream, hence the name Three Milks.” For lighter fare, Pan Dulce sweet breads are also often served. 

And of course, Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity to get wild with alcoholic beverages like flavourful margaritas, Mexican beer with citrus and lime, as well as your favourite tequila. In Mexico itself, micheladas are the signature cocktail of Cinco de Mayo. Akin to Caesars or Bloody Marys, micheladas feature beer mixed with lime and tomato juice as well as chili peppers and Worcestershire sauce and served in a chilled glass with a salted rim.

How is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Canada?

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in cities and communities across Canada, each featuring unique twists. However, you can rest assured there’ll be plenty of good food, good drinks, and good cheer. Restaurants and bars across Canada will usually hold special events with Mexican cuisine and mariachi bands and some communities may have local exhibitions with dance performances in traditional Mexican attire. 

Vancouver in particular is a great Cinco de Mayo hot spot in Canada, with local restaurants holding parties and lively Cinco de Mayo cruises in the bay. Sky Dive Vancouver even holds an annual event called the Cinco de Mayo Boogie where celebrants can go wild in the air.

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