[dropcap]C[/dropcap]elebrate Mexico’s victory against the 19th Century French Empire with mole, cantina crawls and a five-mile race on Chicago’s lakefront!
History of the Holiday
While Cinco de Mayo is most commonly associated with partying, the holiday’s roots can be traced back to a gruesome 19th Century battle during the French occupation of Mexico, the Battle of Puebla.
In 1861, Mexico defaulted on a number of foreign debts that it owed to England, Spain, and France. All three countries invaded Mexico, but England and Spain retreated by the next year. France however decided to stay in order to try and install Mexican monarchy led by Maximilian, the archduke of Austria, who would be loyal to French Emperor Napoleon III.
On May 5, 1862 French forces led by French General Charles Laurencez, marched toward Mexico’s capital to take it over but were blocked by the City of Puebla. General Laurencez ordered a frontal assault against the Mexican position, which kicked off the now famous Battle of Puebla.
General Zaragoza led a poorly equipped Mexican army of 2,000 against a French force of 6,000. Amazingly Zaragoza was able to kill over 1,000 French soldiers and win the battle, which represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement against France.
A month later however another French general attempted to take over Puebla, this time with French reinforcements, and was successful. This began a five-year occupation of Mexico by France. It wasn’t until April 2, 1869 that General Porfirio Diaz reclaimed the city of Puebla and forced the French to eventually leave Mexico. Because of this Cinco de Mayo celebrates the solidarity of the Mexican people in the face of foreign aggressors. Interestingly, the holiday isn’t nationally recognized in Mexico or the United States but is an official holiday in the state of Puebla.
Cinco de Mayo in Cicero
34th Street and Laramie Avenue, Cicero | All Day | Free
Every year thousands upon thousands of revelers poured through the gates for the Town of Cicero’s annual Cinco de Mayo Festival celebration. Attendees can look forward to great authentic Mexican food, carnival games and rides. This year catch performances by Los Horosopos de Durango, Espolon, Jerry Alonso, Los Cadetes, Los Franco, Groupo Ideal, Groupo Nuevo Ejemplo, Ansiedad and many more. This year’s special guest is Carlos Jimenez Macias, the consul general of Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo President’s Cup Junior High Soccer Tournament
Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview | 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. | Free
Teams from Chicago, Berwyn and Cicero will face each other at Toyota Park. The rules will be based by the FIFA Standard point scale system used by the World Cup Soccer Association.
Pilsen Cinco de Mayo Cantina Crawl
Pilsen | 12 p.m.-5 p.m. | Tickets start at $15
The Pilsen Cinco de Mayo Cantina Crawl is back for its second edition. The cantina crawl will feature drink specials at Pilsen restaurants and bars, as well as food samplings, appetizers, live musical performances, karaoke, games, raffle giveaways, and trolleys to transport event attendees. Mariachis will be performing in select venues while Norteño and Trío bands and some local musical acts and DJs will perform as well. Appetizers and food samplings will also be available at participating venues. For tickets and a list of participating venues go to pilsencantinacrawl2015.mivoz.com.
Cinco de Miler 5-mile race
Soldier Field | 7:45 a.m. | $49 until registration closes
Cinco de Miler Chicago is heating up Soldier Field! Join us for Chicago’s only 5-mile race, celebrating Mexico’s colorful culture. You’ll score a fitted technical tee and sombrero bottle opener medal, plus tons of churros, chips, salsa, and horchata.
Cinco de Miler Chicago is proud to support the 100 Club of Chicago. The 100 Club of Chicago is a non-profit organization that to provides financial support to the surviving spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics who lose their lives in the line of duty. By running the Cinco de Miler, you’ll help support 100 Club Chicago. Set up a fundraising page to earn prizes, including free entry.
Mole de Mayo
Pilsen | Noon – 10 p.m. | Free
Award winning chef and mastermind behind the menu at Barbakoa, Chef Dudley Nieto, is lending his taste buds and expertise to the Mole de Mayo festival. Taking place in the heart of Pilsen, Nieto will be one of three judges during the mole cook-off. The festival will feature fifteen Pilsen restaurants debuting their original mole recipes.Nieto, who hails from Mexico, graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and is credited in over eight different Mexican restaurants throughout Chicago and New York City. His credentials don’t stop there; he has been awarded on five different occasions, in addition, participated and was nominated for the coveted James Beard Award.”Mole is such a household staple in Mexican cuisine and can be prepared in so many different ways,” Nieto says. “I am excited to see what others come up with and I am honored that I was asked to judge.”Hosted by the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, Mole de Mayo is a free two-day art, music and food outdoor festival highlighting the rich Mexican sauce. The festival will take place in the heart of Pilsen on 18th Street between Ashland and Blue Island Ave. The festival will also include live music, art vendors, live lucha libre, cerveza, mechanical bull riding and lots of mole!