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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Updated on November 8, 2015

When is Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated?

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated yearly from September 15- October 15 in the United States. It began as a week-long observance of Hispanic culture and contributions in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded into a month long national observance by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 when it was enacted into law.

Why such an unusual time period, you ask. The time period of September 15- October 15 was selected because several Latin American Countries (Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) celebrate their Independence days in September. In addition, September 23 ("El Grito de Lares"- "The Cry of Lares") is an important date for Puerto Ricans. On that date in 1868, an insurrection took place in the town of Lares attempting to free Puerto Rico from Spain and to abolish slavery there. Also within the Hispanic Heritage Month time frame is a holiday that is celebrated in many countries of Latin America as well as the U.S.- Columbus Day- or as it is known in many Spanish-speaking countries, "El Dia de la Raza" ('day of the race' or 'day of the people'). El Dia de la Raza commemorates the first encounters of the Europeans with the native Americans. This holiday falls on October 12.

In this lens I would like to share with you a little about the Hispanic culture and the contributions of Latinos to the United States. It will necessarily be just a little taste and I hope it will whet your appetite for more! Enjoy!

Hispanic Heritage Month Video- Hispanics Past and Present - Who are the Hispanics? Contributions of Hispanics to U.S. Culture

Who are the Hispanics? This video explores the Heritage and Culture of U.S. Hispanics as it evolved from the meld of Spanish, Indian and African influences. It depicts the achievements of the Aztecs and the Incas and the introduction of the African culture to the islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba after the Taino Indians perished from their encounter with the Spaniards. It also relates the importance of the Spanish Language, Religion and Family in the lives of present-day Hispanics in the United States and to the culture of the country.

Hispanics- Past and Present VIDEO

'Hispanic' or 'Latino' refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.

— Definition of Hispanic or Latino Origin used in the 2010 U.S. Census
Mural at Latino Family Services in Detroit, MI
Mural at Latino Family Services in Detroit, MI


Hispanic or Latino

We all have heard the name "Hispanic." We've also heard terms like "Latino," "Chicano," "Mexican-American," "Puerto Rican," "Cuban," etc., etc., etc. And, depending on what part of the U.S. you live in (and sometimes the place in time) you will hear some terms used more than others.

When you hear "Mexican-American" or "Puerto Rican," that's easy to identify as referring to the person's ethnic roots from their country of origin. For example, a "Mexican-American" would be a person of Mexican heritage living in the United States. "Chicano" also refers to a person of Mexican-American heritage, but is more commonly used in the southwestern parts of the country.

"Hispanic" or "Latino" is a much broader term usually referring to persons of Spanish-speaking origins... Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guatemala, Venezuela, any of the countries of the world where Spanish is spoken. "Latino" is used this way as well.

As you can imagine, there is huge diversity among Hispanics. Not only does our appearance encompass all of the racial characteristics of other peoples of the world, but our historical backgrounds, cultures and traditions, music and art, food, celebrations, religion and even the Spanish language (with its distinct regional dialects, accents, and vocabulary) are diverse and add a richness and beauty to the gorgeous tapestry that is the United States.

Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the U.S. in 2010 - Number and Percentage by Country of Origin

PEW Research Center
PEW Research Center

Es Fiesta Time

Visit this website for lots of fun information and activities related to Hispanic, mainly Mexican, culture:

*Information about Cinco de Mayo and why it is celebrated

*Music and Dances of Mexico

*Mexican Food Recipes

*Fiesta Decorations to make: Paper Flowers, Cut-Paper Banners, Pinatas, Treat Bags

*Basic Spanish vocabulary and phrases

Ideas for Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

  • Try a new latin-american dish. There are so many recipes to give you a "taste" of the fantastic variety of latin-american cuisine!
  • Practice your Spanish. Haven't spoken Spanish since high school? Dust off your Spanish textbook or your Spanish-English dictionary and practice some basic greetings the next time you visit your favorite Spanish restaurant.
  • Listen to latin music. Do you like salsa, rancheras, boleros? Whatever type of music you enjoy, you will find wonderful music to take you away.
  • Take salsa lessons. Do you watch "Dancing with the Stars" and think, "I'd like to try that."? Well you can. Or take a free "zumba" class and work off those calories as you dance to the "hot"sals rhythms!
  • Go to a latin film festival or catch some critically acclaimed movies from Latin America.Two of my favorites are "Under the same Moon" and "El Norte." Another romantic movie I enjoy is "A Walk in the Clouds" starring Keanu Reeves- not just because i like Keanu Reeves :) but it also is set in a California vineyard and explores the Hispanic heritage there.
  • Go to the art museum and experience the art of some Hispanic artists
  • Read a book about Hispanic history in the United States- so much fascinating history here.
  • See how many cities and states you can name that have Spanish names- you'll be surprised! (Did you know Toledo" is a Spanish name? :)

How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

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    • Ivylore profile image

      Ivylore 4 years ago

      @Heidi Vincent: Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      Excellent Hispanic lens, BetterToLaugh! And a lovely message to all in your bio.