Every year from September 15 to October 15, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month. This observance appreciates the history, heritage, and immeasurable contributions of citizens who trace their roots to Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The origins of Hispanic Heritage Month trace back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. With a growing recognition of the Latin community’s contributions to American society, President Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the observance of Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Later, under President Ronald Reagan, the celebration was extended to a month-long commemoration.
The start date of September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Additionally, Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, 18, and 21. Dia de la Raza, a day to celebrate Indigenous American and Spanish heritage, also falls within Hispanic Heritage Month.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with activities as diverse and vibrant as the community itself:
Food: Stop by a local bakery, market, or restaurant to explore unique ingredients and spices used in authentic Hispanic and Latino culinary dishes. Try out a new recipe at home, like savory paella or sweet tres leches cake.
Art and Literature: Visit the library or access online resources to experience the works of Hispanic artists like Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Diego Velazquez, and Francisco Goya. Also, delve into books by Hispanic and Latino authors — many libraries will have dedicated displays and book lists, or watch recorded “story times” available on YouTube in English and Spanish.
Movies: Kid-friendly movies exploring Hispanic and Latino culture, like “The Book of Life,” “Encanto,” “Coco,” “Chupa,” and “Vivo,” offer fun, educational entertainment. There are also many television documentaries highlighting Hispanic and Latino culture and history.
Music and Dance: Introduce your child to the vibrancy of Latino dance styles. Learn the basic steps of salsa dancing or get moving to cumbias.
Celebrations: Host a fiesta that includes the ideas above, plus decorations like a piñata or papel picado, beautiful and colorful banners cut with intricate designs. Play games like Lotería (a lottery game similar to Bingo) or a bilingual memory card game.
Virtual Tours: Visit the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Latino online to explore the contributions of Latino communities. Then, take virtual tours of amazing places like Mexico’s Mayan Pyramids, the Galápagos Islands, or the Panama Jungle.
Festivals: Enjoy a local event that offers live music, dancing, art displays, and food vendors.
Online: Expand your social media community by following and supporting Hispanic and Latino artists and activists. Consider adding a social media bio or email signature that recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Support: Strengthen the Hispanic community by donating or volunteering time to Hispanic and cultural institutions or charities.
Hispanic Heritage Month is more than a celebration of culture and history. It’s a recognition of the enduring contributions of a diverse and vibrant community that has shaped the American landscape in countless ways. Let’s embrace and honor this rich heritage, not just for a month, but throughout the year.