Cinco de Mayo lands on a Saturday this year, and Americans of all backgrounds are scoping out sunny patios to meet friends or planning to hit festivals and parades.
(PICTURES: Diverse Celebrations of Cinco de Mayo)
Cinco de Mayo, as it's celebrated in the U.S. these days, is a recognition of the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans to American culture, said Eric Olson, of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
Cinco de Mayo technically marks the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, where, in 1862, Mexican troops defeated the French Army — considered one of the most powerful at the time. It's most commonly mistaken as Mexican Independence Day, which falls on Sept. 16.
The holiday isn't celebrated as widely in Mexico, Olson said. But he believes it's a good thing that Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have made the holiday their own here.
Before the 1980s, celebrations were often local and community based with a strong emphasis on remembering and appreciating Mexican history. Since then, the holiday has become strongly commercialization, leading to an evolution in the way Americans see the holiday — commonly associating it with drinking and revelry, much like St. Patrick's Day.