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Cinco de Mayo Comes to Rome

The Mexican Embassy in Rome has partnered with The American University of Rome to bring the history & culture of Cinco de Mayo celebrations to Rome.

While you may have heard ‘Cinco de Mayo’, you may not be sure exactly what it means. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, as is often believed (that’s Grito de Dolores, celebrated on 16 September); nor is it the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos, celebrated annually on 2 November).

Cinco de Mayo, literally ‘the 5th of May’, commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on 5 May, 1862 (despite facing an enemy with double their strength in numbers). The irony is that this holiday was not originally part of Mexican tradition; its roots lie in California where the celebrations sprang to life in 1863 amongst the expat-Mexican community.

Ambassador Carlos García de Alba

Ph: Ambassador Carlos García de Alba

Since his arrival in Rome, Carlos García de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico in Italy, has been looking for a way to bring the history and celebrations of this community-driven tradition to Rome. “Cinco de Mayo is an important civil celebration in Mexico and it’s a big party in the United States” he stated, “But Cinco de Mayo is also a huge bridge between Mexico and the US. Now we want it to be an important bridge as well between Mexico and Italy, between Mexicans and Italians.”

While such a celebration was interrupted in 2020 by the pandemic, this year, in keeping with the cross-border nature of the event, the Ambassador has partnered with Scott Sprenger, president of The American University of Rome, to hold a celebration of Cinco de Mayo on Thursday, 6 May, 2021 with a lively lecture by one of the world’s leading experts on Mexican-American culture, Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr David Hayes-Bautista

Ph: Dr David Hayes-Bautista

Dr. Hayes-Bautista will discuss the roots of Cinco de Mayo and reveal how its meaning shifted over time through ‘immigrant nostalgia’ in the 1930s, U.S. patriotism during World War II, Chicano Power in the 1960s and ‘70s, and commercial intentions in the 1980s and beyond – until today, where Cinco de Mayo continues to reflect the aspirations of a community that is engaged, empowered, and expanding.

The Cinco de Mayo event will be held on the evening of 6 May and is open to all interested participants. The event will be opened by Ambassador Carlos García de Alba and Dr. Scott Sprenger.

You can register to attend at

Top ph: Roberto Galan /


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