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National Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and is recognized as a time we honor the contributions, cultures, and native heritage of our American Latinx community. The official observance of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 but was originally just one week. It was expanded to a full month by President Ronald Reagan exactly twenty years later.
 
While most month-long celebrations start at the beginning of a calendar month, Sept. 15 is a significant date to kick off the yearly celebration, because five Hispanic countries celebrate their independence on that day: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Every one of these nations declared their independence the same year – 1821.
 
A little context
The terms Hispanic and Latino/Latina/Latinx refer to an ethnicity that shares a common history, culture, and language. More specifically, “Latin America” generally refers to the territories within the Americas where Spanish, Portuguese, and French are most commonly spoken: Mexico, most of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanic-Americans represent more than 18% of the US population. That’s over 57 million Latinx living in the U.S.
 
There are many features central to Hispanic culture that make it unique and beautiful.
For one, Hispanic and Latin American culture places great value on family relationships. They tend to have large, very close-knit families and celebrate with family gatherings quite regularly. It’s not uncommon for three generations to live in the same household or very close by one another. There is often a very strong connection between grandparents and their grandchildren – as the adults often play an important role in raising their grandchildren.
 
Hispanic culture has enriched the melting pot of America in so many ways.
 
  • Hispanic cuisine has become very popular in the U.S. Many typical items in Latin American cuisine include corn-based dishes like tortillas, tamales, or tacos, as well as a variety of salsas, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
  • Hispanic culture has also largely impacted the way we enjoy sporting events in the U.S. As access to Spanish-language television has grown, making it possible for Hispanic and Latin American families to follow the sport stateside, the popularity of soccer has grown in the U.S.
  • We would be remiss if we forgot to mention the powerful influence Hispanic and Latin Americans have had on music in the U.S. Numerous chart-toppers have achieved international fame here, including Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Selena, and Ricky Martin. 
As with any culture, a few bullets on a page could never represent the depth and richness of a people group. Latinx individuals play an important and beautiful role in the culture of the U.S. and bring a special energy to the American experience.
 
Looking for ways to celebrate this festive month at home? Visit Scholastic for this festive list of 24 ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month.
 
Article based on information from InterExchange.