SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Business is booming in Santa Barbara as eateries have tailored their decorations and menu to the festive holiday known as Cinco de Mayo.
This yearly celebration commemorates the military victory of the Mexican army, who against all odds, defeated invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Many people we spoke to say the historical context is lost on many as the holiday has become synonymous with drinking and partying.
“A lot of people confuse it with the Mexican independence as well, which is completely off,” said Norma Villaseñor.
“In Mexico they do not celebrate it the same way as the Americans do, which is, to my understanding, is largely with a lot of tequila and probably tacos,” said tourist Emma Van Niekerk.
But locals say it still brings the community together and allows people to appreciate the richness of Mexican cuisine.
“It gives people opportunity to come together and just really drink a lot of tequila,” said East Coast tourist Katsena Rimmer.
“Especially the college kids. For Cinco de Mayo, it's one of the biggest places to come, you know, get margaritas, get your favorite Mexican food, things like that. So it is such a fun culture here,” said local sales associate Lily Kirksey.
Restaurants like Elena’s kitchen are offering special pastries decorated in red, green, and white to represent the Mexican flag.
Other venues have special Cinco de Mayo menus.
Local business owners want to encourage people to learn more about the history of this day while supporting their small businesses over authentic Mexican cuisine.
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