Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago


Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is celebrated to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Puebla in 1862? Many people in the U.S. see Cinco de Mayo as a reason to drink margaritas and chow down on tacos and guacamole, thinking they’re partying in honor of Mexico’s version of July 4th, but Mexico’s independence day is actually September 16.

In 1861, the English, Spanish and French invaded Mexico due to Mexico’s decision to stop repaying its foreign debts. By April of 1862 the English and Spanish had withdrawn, but France continued in pursuit of establishing a monarchy there in an effort to thwart U.S. power in North America. On May 5, the French army, which greatly outnumbered the Mexican forces, marched on the city of Puebla only to be defeated by a small militia force lead by General Ignacio Zaragoza. This victory became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Puebla with parades, parties and reenactments of the famous battle. However, it is not widely celebrated in the rest of the country. It became popular in the United States in the mid-twentieth century as a way for immigrants of Mexican descent to celebrate their heritage. Now there are lots of ways to commemorate this day besides going to your favorite Mexican restaurant!

Looking for a way to celebrate this year? Amtrak’s got you covered.

You’d probably never think of Chicago as your Cinco de Mayo destination but, as it turns out, Chicago is home to one of the most prominent venues for Mexican culture and art here in the U.S.: The National Museum of Mexican Art.

Located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood inside Harrison Park, the National Museum of Mexican Art showcases 3,000 years of creativity from both sides of the Mexican border. Works from the Museum’s permanent collection of more than 9,000 pieces are exhibited in bilingual galleries in this, the first nationally accredited Latino museum in the U.S. — and the only one dedicated to Mexican art and culture. What makes it even better is that admission is free!

Current exhibits include a new gallery, Galería Cárdenas, which celebrates bicultural Mexican artists’ contributions to post-1960 American printmaking. The Museum’s Permanent Collection exhibition showcases Mexican identity throughout North America.

Whether you’re coming from the West or East Coast, or from the Deep South, Amtrak has a number of route options you can choose from. And once you arrive at Union Station, the museum is a quick trip from Chicago’s Loop.