Cinco de Mayo didn’t always involve tacos and tequila, and it’s often mistaken for the Mexican Independence Day. The fifth day of May is the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. Parts of Mexico and the United States celebrate the holiday in honor of a military victory in 1862 over Napoleon III’s French forces.

So how did this celebration of a military victory for a region in Mexico become an excuse to drink in excess and wear a fake mustache?

Cinco de Mayo’s popularity grew in the 1960s when Chicano activists embraced the holiday as a way to increase pride among Mexican-Americans. Over time, Mexican-Americans’ festivities evolved into an inclusive celebration of Mexican heritage.

Enthusiasm for the holiday did not become popularized until it was associated with the promotion of Mexican alcoholic beverages like Cervezas and Margaritas and beer companies started sponsoring Cinco De Mayo events. For example, in the early 1980s, Anheuser Busch and Miller each created Hispanic marketing departments and began sponsoring these celebrations, according to Business Insider.

How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Sober

Cinco de Mayo can be a triggering holiday for individuals in recovery, but it’s possible to enjoy celebrations and remain sober. Here are some festive ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo Sober:

Host a Sober Barbecue

By this time of year, most locations in the United States have begun to experience warmer weather, so it’s a perfect time to host a barbecue. Barbecues often include alcohol, but they can be just as fun and enjoyable without alcoholic drinks.

While alcohol is typically associated with Cinco De Mayo, Mexican food is also a delicious way to celebrate. Including tacos, quesadillas and queso dip at a sober barbecue can turn it into a fiesta.

Having a dry barbecue encourages time for much more fun activities like cornhole, dominoes, card games and horseshoes. You’re never too old for water games or slip and slides either — and with zero alcohol involved, there’s less of a risk for injury.

Make It a Beach Day

People who live near the ocean or another large body of water, like a river or lake, know how relaxing a day on the water can be. A day at the beach can be a rejuvenating and fun way to get active or relax. Whether it’s reading and sunbathing or swimming and surfing, a beach day is a great way to have a fun holiday and still remain sober.

See a Movie

Going to the movies is always an excellent option for a fun activity and because it is a holiday, it could be easier to avoid the crowds.

You can also keep the theme and check out some movies or documentaries about Mexican culture. You can browse Netflix or your local library for documentaries to watch. IMDB also has a list of 20 films by Mexican directors or about life in Mexico. Instead of binge-drinking, you can learn about Mexican culture to celebrate the holiday.

Treat Yourself to a Me Day

An unofficial holiday is a perfect excuse to treat yourself to a me-day. On triggering days like Cinco de Mayo, it’s important that mental health remains a priority.  A few options for a relaxing mental health day include:

  • Visit a spa for a massage
  • Try acupuncture
  • Take a yoga class or practice it at home
  • Go on a walk at your favorite park
  • Curl up and read an interesting book
  • Take a nap – without the guilt!

Do Nothing

Most of the population of Mexico doesn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo, so it’s okay if it goes unacknowledged by someone trying to have some sober fun. Social pressure shouldn’t influence you into binge drinking and partying simply because of a day on the calendar – especially if alcohol has a negative effect on your well-being.

Staying sober is the primary objective on these “binge-drinking” holidays. It can be a difficult day for individuals in recovery. If you or someone you know struggles with an alcohol use disorder or has experienced a recent setback, call The Recovery Village and speak with one of our representatives. The call is free, completely confidential and representatives are available around the clock.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.