What is the Real Meaning of Cinco de Mayo?

Take the Following Multiple Choice Quiz


A.    Eamonn “Cinco” McSweeney was born in 1886 in County Mayo, Ireland, the youngest of five children who became a minor hero in the Irish Rebellion of 1916. The story goes that his grandmother gave him the nickname “Cinco” rather than “Five” because she herself was of Black Irish descent, having descended from sailors who washed ashore on the west coast of Ireland after the defeat of the “Spanish Armada” in 1588. Cinco de Mayo is the day that the Irish celebrate Cinco’s contribution to the independence of Ireland.

B.     Cinco de Mayo is a large jar of the popular salad dressing commonly used with hamburgers and French fries. It is the container size favored by many Mexican restaurants. In Spanish, “cinco” refers to a fifth of a gallon.

C.     Juan de Jesús García el Cinco was one of the earliest heart surgeons in Mexico and one of the founders of the Mexican branch of the Mayo Clinic. He was the fifth generation son to have the name Juan, but since the name is so common, he called himself “Cinco.” Hence, in both Mexico and the United States, he was known as Cinco de Mayo. The holiday held every year in May is a celebration of his contribution to medical science.

D.    Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrating the Mexican victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

E.     Cinco de Mayo is the name given to an advertising campaign beginning in the 1980s to sell copious amounts of beer prior to the summer barbecue season. The Alternative Urban Dictionary or AUD translates the phrase as “give us your money.” Contrary to popular belief, the campaign was not orchestrated by Mexican breweries but by the brewing giant Anheuser Busch. Subsequent to the development of the ad campaign, Anheuser Busch bought most of the Mexican breweries and became the dominant beer manufacturer and distributor in both countries.



Jim Woessner works as a visual artist and writer living on the water in Sausalito, California. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College. His publishing credits include The Daily DrunkFlash Fiction MagazineClose to the BoneAdelaide MagazinePotato Soup JournalThe Sea Letter, and others.

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