Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Started as just a week-long celebration in 1968, it was expanded into a 30-day period by President Reagan in 1988. The day of September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of geographies such Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua claiming their independence. Mexico and Chile celebrate their national days of independence on September 16th and September 18th respectively. Also, Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.
Why do we celebrate? There are an estimated 56.6 million Hispanics living in the United States. This equates to about 17.6% of the country population. Hispanic Americans have contributed to American life since the American Revolution, and have fought in every war since. Hispanic Americans continue to have representation in our country- as small business owners, veterans, teachers, doctors, store leadership, department managers, among many other professions. Hispanic Heritage month allows us to recognize their contribution and achievements to our national story.
How is Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated? The month is celebrated in a large variety of ways. As several other celebratory holidays fall during this month — such as the independence days of several Latin American countries — concerts, parades, food fairs, festivals, dancing, and more are organized throughout. Educational events like art exhibitions take place as well, highlighting important Latino heroes in history. Cooking is another big way to celebrate! From pull-apart arepas filled with savory ingredients to learning the Spanish word for meatball – albóndiga – before digging into one! If you are a big fan of Mexican food, cook with and discuss the spices and ingredients that make these dishes special, such as cumin and paprika, corn, chili peppers, shredded beef and chicken, beans, tomatoes and more.