It’s Cinco de Mayo time and festivities are planned across the US. But in Mexico, not so much

The United States is gearing up for Cinco de Mayo. Music, all-day happy hours and taco deals are planned at locations across the country on Sunday, May 5, during a celebration with widely misunderstood origins that are barely recognized south of the border.

In the US, the date is largely seen as a celebration of Mexican American culture dating back to the 19th century in California. Typical festivities include parades, street food, block parties, mariachi competitions, and baile folklórico, or folkloric dance, with swirling dancers wearing shiny ribbons with braids and bright, ruffled dresses.

For Americans with or without Mexican heritage, the day has become an excuse to down tequila shots with salt and lime and tuck into tortilla chips smothered with melted orange cheddar, something unknown to most people in Mexico.

The focus on drinking and food has led to some criticism of the holiday, especially as beer companies and other marketers have taken advantage of its festive nature and some revelers embrace offensive stereotypes, like fake, hanging mustaches and giant straw sombreros.

WHAT IT IS

Cinco de Mayo marks the anniversary of Mexican forces’ victory over invading French forces in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. The victory over the better equipped and more numerous French troops was a huge emotional boost for the Mexican soldiers led by General Ignacio Zaragoza.

Historical reenactments and annual parades are held in the city of Puebla in central Mexico to commemorate the inspiring victory, with participants dressed in historic French and Mexican army uniforms.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, Mexico’s most important holiday.

Mexicans celebrate their country’s independence from Spain on the anniversary of the call to arms against the European country, issued on September 16, 1810, by the Rev. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest in Dolores, Mexico.

The Mexican president reenacts el Grito de Independencia, or the Call of Independence, most years on September 15 around 11 p.m. from the balcony of the country’s National Palace as Hidalgo rang the bell.

The commemoration usually ends with three cries of “¡Viva México!” above a colorful swirl of tens of thousands of people crowding the Zócalo, the main square, in central Mexico City.

THIS YEAR’S PARTIES

May 5 falls on a Sunday this year, an ideal day for many people to relax and enjoy the day. Celebrations are planned across the country, especially in places with large Mexican American populations.

Among the festivities in California, San Jose will play host a parade and festival with live music, dancers and lowrider cars, while there will be a festival in San Francisco District six.

A outdoor market in El Paso, Texas, will feature a car show, vendors and live music from Krystall Poppin, Ka$h Go Crazy and 2 Sexy Ashley.

That will certainly be the case in New Orleans celebrate on Saturday and Sunday at Fat City Park, with two stages and eight bands, as well as a taco eating contest.

Bars and restaurants across the country are promoting them Mexican fare and special offers including all-day happy hours. For something else, New York even has one floating Mexican restaurant on a yacht sailing down the Hudson River.