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Cinco de Mayo began as a celebration of an important victory of the Mexican army over the French Empire on May 5, 1862. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mexico’s day of independence. At some point, celebrating Cinco de Mayo became more popular in California and grew to become more of a celebration of Mexican-American culture and cuisine. Now the holiday is far more popular in the United States than it is in Mexico.

When Did Alcohol and Cinco de Mayo Start Mixing?

With cultural celebrations marked by fireworks, parades, dancing and plenty of food, the only reason that alcohol came into the mix was that beer, wine, and tequila companies saw it as an opportunity to promote their products. Their marketing is why the holiday is synonymous with drinking.

Due to intense marketing campaigns, alcohol is now widely associated with many Cinco de Mayo celebrations here in the U.S. However, no actual tradition ties alcohol to the holiday or the cultural celebrations, so the drinking aspect is purely marketing.

Can I Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Without Alcohol?

Cinco de Mayo can be fun as a vibrant celebration of Mexican-American culture. You may need to forget how others celebrate or how you may have celebrated in the past, but you can absolutely have a sober Cinco de Mayo and have a fantastic time.

You can even create a sober Cinco de Mayo celebration for others in recovery or those who do not wish to drink alcohol. Creating drug and alcohol-free celebrations helps normalize sobriety and raise awareness of those who do not wish to drink just because it is a holiday. An alcohol-free Cinco de Mayo also brings the celebration closer to the holiday’s original purpose.

How to Have an Authentic Cinco de Mayo

Are you interested in celebrating Cinco de Mayo more authentically? Here are some ideas to help you celebrate the holiday closer to its roots:

  • Learn more about the Battle of Puebla and how the smaller army of Mexico was able to triumph over the larger and better equipped French army
  • Find parades or battle reenactments to watch like they do in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo (these are also available on YouTube)
  • Visit local Mexican historic sites and learn more about the history behind the area you live in
  • Find local Mexican-American cultural organizations and attend events and presentations to learn more about the language and culture
  • Get involved with a local group and learn authentic Mexican dancing, including authentic costumes, and perform with the group

Fun Ways to Celebrate a Sober Cinco de Mayo

Enjoying all of the sights, sounds, and especially the cuisine of Cinco de Mayo is especially fun and rewarding while sober. Make plans on your own, with a friend, or plan a party for all of your sober friends to celebrate in style. Some ideas include:

  • Make plans for dinner. Since restaurants are often crowded and serve alcohol, why not order takeout from a delicious Mexican restaurant? You could even have a picnic dinner under the stars.
  • Enjoy the fireworks. Find a cozy beach spot, rent a boat, or go to that friend’s place with a great view or patio. Indulge in tasty Mexican treats while you watch.
  • Have a taco night. Have friends bring different ingredients for tacos and then enjoy them together with music, great conversation, and a tasty Mexican dessert.
  • Dance the night away. Find a place where you and your friends can dance to your favorite Mexican artists, or even hire a live band if you want to. Serve plenty of agua fresca to keep your thirst quenched.
  • Host a movie night. Watch your favorite Mexican-American-inspired movies and enjoy delicious homemade or takeout Mexican food to go with them.
  • Host a sober Cinco de Mayo party. You could have a salsa bar and fresh guacamole along with lots of delicious Mexican food. You could play games, even have a piñata if that is your style, and play your favorite Mexican-American music.

Mexican-American culture is fun and vibrant and does not require alcohol to be enjoyable. The food is delicious, the music is contagious, and the images are colorful and imaginative. Whether you are celebrating on your own or with others, finding fun on Cinco de Mayo is easy.

Leaving alcohol behind is a conscious choice that you make daily. Holidays, where alcohol is so heavily marketed, can make it difficult for those in recovery, but you can make your own path. Take the initiative and plan ahead to make this sober Cinco de Mayo one to remember!

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration that the United States has adopted from Mexico. Having a sober celebration is normal, as alcohol is only marketed for Cinco de Mayo, but it is not a tradition. There are so many authentic and fun ways to celebrate this fun and cultural holiday. You can be a trendsetter and help others in sobriety have a fun and sober Cinco de Mayo. West Coast Recovery Centers supports making plans for sober celebrations. We know that certain holidays can be triggering with the extra marketing of alcohol.  We are here to help you learn to make relapse prevention plans and to have support networks in place. We offer evidence-based and holistic options for your healing. Our outpatient programs are designed to help you transition back into healthy routines. Contact us today at (760) 492-6509.