cinco de mayo spanish vocabulary

Spice Up Your Cinco de Mayo With Some Fun Spanish Vocabulary

Leonor Garcia Published on May 4, 2024

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated in Mexico on the 5th of May each year. This is not Mexico’s Independence Day, despite what the public may think; rather, it is a celebration of a culturally significant underdog win.

This article explores the true story of Cinco de Mayo, taking a look at the historical Battle of Puebla, where Mexican forces overcame the French in 1862. You’ll also learn how this day has evolved into a festival of Mexican resiliency and pride. And most importantly, you’ll learn all the vocabulary you need to celebrate this holiday!

Continue reading explore the authentic traditions, thrilling celebrations, and intriguing history that contribute to Cinco de Mayo’s status as a festival that transcends Mexico and lives on in people’s hearts.

cinco de mayo costumes

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Mexican Independence Day is on September 16th, and not on Cinco de Mayo as is widely believed. Rather, the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862, is celebrated on this day to honor the Mexican army’s valiant victory over the far superior and larger French army. Even though this victory was more symbolic than militarily essential, it significantly raised Mexican morale and pride and showed their tenacity and resolve.

While Cinco de Mayo is a minor Mexican holiday, it’s celebrated with military parades and other ceremonial events, particularly in Puebla. It has also gained immense popularity in the US. There is a procession, dancing, music, and delicious Mexican food as part of a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. In essence, Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate the underdog and to honor the rich cultural and historical contributions of Mexico.

How is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated?

With its colorful parades, lively music, and traditional dances, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a national holiday to commemorate the Mexican ancestry and culture in the United States. Many people take part in the celebrations, including those who have no personal connection to Mexican history or culture. People usually enjoy some Mexican food and maybe even a few margaritas. The more restrained celebration of the event in Mexico stands in stark contrast to its widespread acknowledgment in the United States.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has a strong traditional and historical significance, particularly in the Puebla state. The day is commemorated by many events and is celebrated with a sense of patriotism. This is what usually occurs:

1. Military Parades and Reenactments: Puebla’s major attraction is a sizable military parade in which soldiers march in remembrance of the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The battle is frequently reenacted during this procession, bringing history to life with remarkable fervor and accuracy.

2. Cultural Festivities: Talks and performances that showcase the region’s rich cultural legacy and the valor of the Mexican armed forces are frequently featured during celebrations. The celebrations heavily incorporate traditional Mexican music and dance, especially folkloric dances.

3. Study the Event in School: Students are taught in Mexican schools about the historical relevance of the conflict between France and Mexico. This helps pass down the history and traditions of Cinco de Mayo across generations.

4. Local Cuisine: Traditional Mexican cuisines play a significant role in Puebla and other parts of Mexico during festivities. Particularly well-liked dishes include mole poblano, which is supposedly Pueblan in origin. A traditional Cinco de Mayo dish is this hearty, flavorful sauce poured over meat.

In general, Cinco de Mayo is still a day of cultural pride and patriotic meditation. There’s a great emphasis on historical significance rather than mass celebration even though parades and parties are common in the United States and Mexico, especially in Puebla.

Spanish words to know this Cinco de Mayo

Gaining some Spanish vocabulary will help you enjoy the vivid Cinco de Mayo celebrations more, whether you’re in Puebla’s busy streets or at your neighborhood park. These vocabulary words carry the history, customs, and celebrations that surround this unique day. Understanding them will enable you to fully appreciate Cinco de Mayo’s rich cultural heritage, from the clothing to the food. The following is a collection of important Spanish vocabulary words to celebrate the history of Cinco de Mayo:

cinco de mayo food

El Día de la Batalla de Puebla

This phrase translates to “The Day of the Battle of Puebla,” which is the official Mexican name for the holiday. It honors May 5, 1862, the day the Mexican army declared victory over the French in the state of Puebla. This unexpected victory is hailed as a representation of Mexican tenacity and patriotism. Knowing this phrase makes the day easier to interpret as a patriotic holiday with deep roots in Mexico’s past rather than merely as a general celebration.

Mil ochocientos sesenta y dos

This expression, which simply translates as “One thousand eight hundred sixty-two,” refers to the year 1862. This is the year of the Battle of Puebla, which is the historical event that Cinco de Mayo honors. By understanding this phrase, we can place ourselves inside the particular historical framework of the fight and highlight the significance of that year in Mexican history.

Ejército Mexicano

This phrase translates to “Mexican Army.” The Mexican national military force played a crucial role in the Battle of Puebla, which is celebrated in Cinco de Mayo. Under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Ejército Mexicano defeated the more powerful French soldiers on this day in 1862. As a result of this victory, Mexicans can be proud of their troops’ fortitude and resiliency. You can refer to the bravery and strategic thinking that defined this crucial time in Mexican history by knowing this term.

Los Soldados

The translation of this Spanish phrase is “the soldiers.” It refers to the men who participated in the Battle of Puebla as members of the Mexican Army. The surprising victory over French forces was possible in large part because of the efforts of los soldados. The festival pays tribute to the sacrifices and bravery of Los Soldados who stood firm in defense of their nation. You’ll need this phrase to discuss the history of the brave men who collaborated with the Mexican victory.

mexican flag

Las Soldaderas

“Las Soldaderas” are the women who took part in the Mexican Revolution. They were frequently camp followers who gave essential assistance by tending to the sick, cooking, and even fighting alongside men. Despite not having participated in the Battle of Puebla, las soldaderas are revered in Mexican culture. They serve as a symbol of Mexico’s larger historical conflicts. In celebration of their accomplishments, women frequently dress as “soldaderas” for Cinco de Mayo celebrations. They wear traditional skirts and flowery hats. These clothes represent act as a reminder of the significant roles that women played in Mexican history.

Bandera de México

La Bandera de México is Mexico’s national flag. The flag is a powerful representation of Mexican identity and pride. It is made up of three vertical stripes that are green, white, and red, with the national coat of arms located in the center of the white stripe. La Bandera de México highlights the patriotic spirit of the day by acting as a visual statement of pride in the country and is frequently carried in parades and shown in public spaces.

El Desfile

El desfile means “the parade,” and it’s a main feature of many Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Participants in these marches frequently display folkloric dances, play music, and dress in vibrant traditional Mexican garb. School bands and military formations march in honor of the historical significance of the Battle of Puebla. El desfile is a colorful, community-focused celebration that brings people of all ages together to celebrate Mexican culture and history.

Baile Folklórico

It’s a rich and expressive aspect of Mexican culture. Baile folklórico refers to “folkloric dance,” which is a main attraction during the Cinco de Mayo celebrations. These dances are distinguished by their beautiful costumes, authentic Mexican music, and choreographies that frequently narrate tales of Mexican culture, local history, and daily life. Every area of the nation has a unique dance style that reflects the rich diversity of its cultural past. Folkloric dance performances captivate audiences by exhibiting the colorful customs and creative expressions that are essential to Mexican identity.

cinco de mayo party


Mariachi music is a mainstay of Mexican culture and is played on holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo. An ensemble of musicians decked out in traditional charro costumes is a hallmark of a mariachi band. Many different instruments, including guitars, trumpets, violins, and guitarrón, contribute to their vibrant and thunderous sound.

Native to Mexico and with a long history there, the lyrics of the song often talk about love, country, heroes, and the natural world. The uplifting beats and poignant melodies of mariachi music heighten holiday cheer. Whether they are taking part or are merely watching, this brings everyone together in a joyous celebration of ethnic pride.


The word charro describes a typical Mexican horseman who is frequently seen as a representation of the country’s history and culture. Charros are distinguished by their ornate and ornamental attire. It usually consists of wide-brimmed sombreros, jackets with excellent embroidery, and snugly fitting pants made of high-quality materials. 

Clothing plays a big influence on a person’s feeling of self-respect and cultural identity, especially in public festivals like Cinco de Mayo. Charros usually participate in parades and charreadas. Charreadas are similar to rodeos, and showcase their skill with horses and rope acts, during these celebrations. The charros, which pay homage to Mexico’s historic horseback customs, add a richer historical and cultural element to the festivities.

Fiesta Callejera

This phrase translates to “street party.” The fiesta callejera captures the lively, neighborhood vibe of Cinco de Mayo festivities, especially in cities. These lively street events bring together the local community to enjoy live music, such as mariachi and other traditional Mexican genres. An abundance of food vendors serve festive and locally sourced dishes like tacos, tamales, and churros. The lively environment created by cultural events encourages individuals of all ages to enjoy their Mexican ancestry and culture. These fiestas callejeras turn city streets into vibrant, bustling centers of celebration for the community and cultural pride on Cinco de Mayo.


Sombrero refers to a traditional Mexican hat with a broad brim that is very useful for shade-blocking. It is possible to apply intricate patterns and vibrant colors to this traditional headdress. Sombreros are usually made of straw or felt.

During Cinco de Mayo celebrations, people wear sombreros as part of their celebratory clothing, representing Mexican cultural identity. These hats are a popular option for parades and celebrations throughout the festival. They serve as a celebratory item that honors traditional Mexican clothing while also boosting the joyful attitude.

mexican mariachi


Chiles (a variety of spicy peppers such as habaneros, serranos, and jalapeños) are an indispensable ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Peppers are essential to get the robust tastes seen in many of the meals offered in Cinco de Mayo.

Chiles, whether fresh, dried, or powdered, provide many classic recipes—such as salsas, moles, and tacos—a notable depth of flavor and kick of heat. The usage of chiles honors Mexico’s agricultural diversity while also improving the culinary experience. Chipotle-based meals give guests a chance to savor the bold and colorful flavors of Mexican cooking in Cinco de Mayo.

Los fuegos artificiales

Los fuegos artificiales means “fireworks,” a stunning element that people use to end festivities, such as Cinco de Mayo. These amazing fuegos artificiales create a festive and breathtaking mood that lights up the night sky. Fireworks at Cinco de Mayo represent joy and celebration in Mexico and communities worldwide. Not only are the brilliant flashes of color and sound visually stunning, but they also act as a brilliant reminder of Puebla’s win and effort. Cinco de Mayo fireworks are a much-loved celebration because, as they burst overhead, they inspire pride and community spirit.

Practice Your New Cinco de Mayo Vocabulary With Langoly

I hope this guide has taught you the Cinco de Mayo vocabulary you need to boost your celebrations! Do you want to learn even more Spanish? Apps for learning Spanish are terrific resources since they provide engaging activities that enhance speaking and listening in authentic settings.

On the other hand, Spanish grammar books provide a strong basis for verb conjugations and sentence construction. Another good strategy is to enroll in online courses, which can offer structured instruction and teacher feedback directly to you. These resources facilitate the practice and comprehension of Spanish, preserving the festive mood of Cinco de Mayo throughout your educational process.

Leonor Garcia

Leonor García is a Peruvian ESL teacher with a bachelor's degree from Universidad Nacional Federico Villarreal. She is fluent in Spanish and English and is currently learning Portuguese. She is passionate about cultural exchange and using languages to drive globalization. Through her writing and teaching, Leonor aims to help people achieve their language learning goals. Connect with Leonor on LinkedIn.

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