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.