A hugely popular celebration across the USA and parts of Mexico, Cinco de Mayo (5th May) commemorates the Mexican army's victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. Although Cinco de Mayo has become more of an American holiday than a Mexican one, the food, drink, music and celebrations are deeply rooted in Mexican culture.
Take note, people: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico's independence day. Mexican independence is actually celebrated on September 16th!
Spanish songs often have roots in different types of Mexican music. Its influences come from different regions in Mexico; for example: Some regional differences include son jarocho from the area around Vera Cruz, son jaliscenses from Jalisco, and others, such as son huasteco, son calentano, and son michoacano. Mexican son first made its appearance in the 17th Century - it’s a fusion of various music traditions. (Fun fact: Son means sound in Mexican Spanish!)
Arguably the most famous genre to stem from Mexico is Mariachi music. Although it’s commonly thought of as a style of music, it’s actually a group of musicians! The music is commonly played at weddings and band members wear the well-recognised 'charro' suits which are attributed to General Portofino Diaz.
Another style of music called Ranchera, was literally sung on a Mexican ranch and was introduced by the Norteño band. Ranchera was a music genre that originated in the 19th century - normally the songs related to love, patriotism and nature. Banda music was yet another style (told you it was varied!) It originated from military bands in the 1860s and became popular around the time of the Mexican revolution.
Other well-known Mexican music genres include Salsa, Boleros and more modern pop-rock and rock mexicano.
While we could sing the praises of ALL the wonderful ways Cinco de Mayo is celebrated, that would take hours (and a good few more blog posts). So we chose to mention some popular Mexican Spanish music genres -- in fact, we even went the extra mile and created a Spotify playlist of Mexican Spanish songs we love!
Whether you’re into pop and rock, or rap and hip hop, there’s something for everyone - check them out here!
It might seem like you won’t learn much from listening to music. Although it can come across as ‘passive’ learning, that’s exactly what we like about it! You can do your daily chores with the songs playing in the background, and you’re still immersing yourself in the culture and learning the language!
Putting on a playlist helps you to subconsciously absorb words and phrases, get used to how a new language sounds and broadens your musical horizons. What’s not to love?! It’s a low effort way of learning with loads of benefits.
Fun facts about learning languages through music:
So, however you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo, have a good one 🎉 PS: We’d love it if you headed over to our social media and let us know your favourite Mexican Spanish songs!
Wanna challenge yourself and get Street Smart in Spanish?