National Hispanic Heritage Month
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National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th. This month is set aside to recognize and appreciate the contributions and influences from Hispanic Americans on history, culture, and achievement in the United States. We also recognize all of our ancestors that came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America during this month.
September 15th is significant because it represents the anniversary of five Latin American countries; Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, that gained independence in 1821. Other countries such as Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence in a few days following the 15th that also falls in this 30-day period. For example, Mexico on the 16th, Chile on the 18th and then Belize on the 21st of September.
The celebration of Hispanic Heritage started in the year 1968. However, at this time it was only National Hispanic Heritage Week. This celebration was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. It wasn’t until 20 years later in 1988 when this celebration was expanded to 30 days. This extension to the celebration of Hispanic Heritage was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Every president since 1968 has given an annual proclamation for National Hispanic Heritage Week as well as National Hispanic Heritage Month. For example, in the proclamation in 2016 by Barack Obama he stated, “Since our founding, our Nation has drawn strength from the diversity of our people. With faith and passion, a sturdy work ethic and profound devotion to family, Hispanics have helped carry forward our legacy as a vibrant beacon of opportunity for all.” You can find the entire 2016 proclamation – HERE.
How to Celebrate
In recent years, there were many concerts, festivals, parades, and community gatherings all over the United States. These planned festivities are put together to celebrate and appreciate National Hispanic Heritage Month. Many of these festivities were family friendly and free to the public! However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these celebrations will be canceled or held virtually this year.
Virtual options for National Hispanic Heritage Month:
- Viva Mexico:
- This festivity is held on September 16th from 6pm-9pm. This virtual celebration will consist of music and dance. Roen Salinas who is the founder of the Aztlan Dance Company will be present at this virtual ceremony and will be delivering a live presentation. This will be free and streamed online via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and www.VivaMexico2020.net. More information about this festivity can be found at that link as well.
- Saltillo Day 2020 and El Grito:
- This festivity is held on September 15th at noon. This is a combination of two popular events that are usually held at the Texas Capital during Hispanic Heritage Month. Both of these events represent Hispanic culture and history. This virtual celebration will have many interactive games and activities that are held over zoom. There will also be an art viewing and musical performances available. All of the activities are free, however, some of the activities do require registration. More information about this festivity can be found on the link: https://www.austinsistercities.com/events/virtual-saltillo-festival-2020
Another great way you can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year is to read a book on Hispanic history or culture. You could also try some new Hispanic foods and recipes or if you have the opportunity, you could also go support Hispanic-owned businesses or restaurants. There are so many options that allow you to still celebrate this year but stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking part in Hispanic Heritage Month festivities shows recognition and appreciation for Latinx American culture and history. It also shows appreciation and support for all that Latinx Americans and all they have done to help our country grow. It is such a great experience to take part in National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Author: Samantha Potocnik
Samantha is an intern at EVOLVE and a student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
An Interview with Cristian Lozada – EVOLVE Foster Care Family Worker
Q1: How do you identify?
I identify as Latino/Mexican raised in a white household.
Q2: How does your culture impact the work that you do?
My culture helps remind me of the hardships that so many of our families can and often go through. It helps me be empathetic and understanding of the differences and similarities that I have with our clients.
Q3: What does Hispanic Heritage month mean to you?
To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of the history, the contributions, and the cultures that are encompassed under the umbrella of “Hispanic”. It is a reminder of how connected we are over thousands of miles and how important WE are as a part of this country.
Q4: What do you want people to know about Hispanic Heritage month?
Words have power and significant meaning. It is important to understand the difference between the terms “Hispanic”, Latina/o, Latinx”. Hispanic is typically used to describe Spanish-speaking natives, and this can include people from Spain. Latino/a refers to people of Latin American origin or decent. Latinx also refers to people of Latin American origin or decent, but it is a gender-neutral/nonbinary term. Some people may also choose to identify with the specific country they are from or have roots in such as Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian, Guatemalan etc. Although Hispanic Heritage Month is often an umbrella term, respecting how someone self-identifies is very important.
Q5: How do you celebrate your culture?
Food and spicy food specifically are a big component of my culture. The main way that I celebrate my culture, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, but in general, is through the food. Every time I get to eat those foods, I celebrate the wonderful flavors of my culture.
Q6: How do you fill your culture cup up?
I have a family that is white. That my no means is a bad thing. At times I do experience a cultural disconnect since I don’t have many people of my culture in my immediate family. The way that I get to fill my culture cup consists of spending time with my brother, especially when food is involved. Another way that I get to fill my culture cup, is when I spend time with my soccer teammates and their families. Whether it is a weekend barbecue or a bautizo, my culture is always welcoming and full of joy.
Q7: 2020 impact statement and hope for the future?
Hispanic Heritage Month is an example of the connection so many can share. In the current world that we are experiencing, having unity and celebrating our connections rather than focusing on our differences, will be how we start creating change.
Thank you Cristian, for sharing with us about your culture!