This 30-day celebration of Hispanic culture started on Friday, Sept. 15, which marks the independence day for many countries in Central America, including El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile’s independence days follow shortly thereafter, on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18. The month concludes on Oct. 15.
This recognition of Hispanic heritage started with President Johnson in 1968, and was later expanded to its current one-month duration by President Reagan. The month does not have much to do with the actual countries, but rather, with the United States learning about heritage as it relates to the United States.
For most Latinos, Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t change their day-to-day lives, and they don’t stop celebrating after the month is over. It’s a time for other people to learn about different histories, food and traditions. Just as Independence Day in the United States is taught in schools, Hispanic Heritage Month is a way of educating people about a history that rarely gets covered in depth. It’s a time of recognizing Latino figures and realizing how far we’ve come as a nation, while still looking forward. It’s a chance to spend time with family members who can share information about family traditions.
The different dates for National Hispanic Heritage Month are posted on flyers around campus, mainly in the Stall Street Journal. All of the countries involved come from areas in Central America, and many of them celebrate similar independence days.
There are also national events around the United States. In Washington D.C., there are music concerts with different Hispanic artists. There is also the 2017 Americas Awards Ceremony where fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected nonfiction published works are honored in either the Spanish or English language. These publications were published within the last year.
Another main event is the ZooFiesta. This is held at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and includes live music, authentic gourmet cuisine, and educational activities for people of all ages. This event also features animals from Latin American countries and draws crowds of people every year to see them.
Hispanic Heritage Month exists not just to celebrate independence, but to promote cultural competency. This means people should take time to celebrate their own cultures, whether that’s appreciating Lin-Manuel Miranda’s artistic genius, going through family photos while Grandma tells stories, or learning how Latinos’ roles in Hollywood have changed. Look up important figures in a culture’s history and get involved with events in the area.
Start somewhere, and don’t stop when Oct. 15 rolls around. For more information about National Hispanic Heritage Month, go to www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov to learn more about the countries involved and how to learn more about heritage.