What Is Hispanic Heritage Month and All about How the World Celebrates It

Hispanic Heritage Month

What is Hispanic Heritage Month? National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, celebrates the Hispanic culture, traditions, and tremendous contributions to the public life of those Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, and Spanish-speaking countries in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

What is the Hispanic culture? The term “Hispanic” or “Latino” (or the more modern term “Latino”) refers to a person's culture or background, regardless of race. On the Census form of the year, people were considered Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish if they could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “other Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish”.

When Is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic appreciation month is observed annually from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to appreciate and celebrate the colorful cultures, rich histories, and diversity of the American Latino community.

Into the Depths of Hispanic Heritage Month History

Into the Depths of Hispanic Heritage Month History

Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring the community's history, heritage, and the contributions of ancestors of American citizens who came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. 

What about Hispanic Heritage Month information? It was originally one week long when it was first introduced by Congressman George E. Brown in June 1968. With the civil rights movement in the 1960s came the need to recognize the contributions of the Hispanic community. Gradually, there was a growing awareness that the United States was home to diverse cultures. 

Brown represented two areas inhabited by Latinos and Hispanics, the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles. His goal was to recognize the integral role of these communities in American history. Hispanic Heritage Week began in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and then-President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a 30-day celebration that began on September 15 and ended on October 15. On August 17, 1988, it was passed into law through the approval of Public Law 100-402. 

September 15 is the start date of the month because it is important for many reasons. It is the anniversary of the independence of the Latin American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Since then, the independence days of Mexico and Chile fall on September 16 and 18, respectively. Dia de la Raza or Columbus Day also falls on this month, October 12.

Is Hispanic and Latino the Same?

The simplest way to remember the difference between Hispanic and Latino is that Hispanic refers to Spanish-dense populations and Latino refers to Latin American countries.

Why Is Hispanic Heritage Month Important?

  • A strong influence on America. Hispanic influences intersect closely with American life — think music, food, art, movies, politics, literature, and more.
  • Approximately one-fifth of the U.S. population is Hispanic. The state with the largest Hispanic and Latino population in California, home to more than 14 million people.
  • Kids benefit. Although this month's Hispanic kids are learning about their roots, all children can benefit from learning about the history and Hispanic culture symbols.

A Week or a Month of Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration?

National Hispanic Heritage month coincides with the Independence Day celebrations of several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. These five countries declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821.

From 1968 to 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan issued annual proclamations setting aside a week to honor notable Hispanic Americans. In 1987, U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed extending the celebration to 31 days. Torres wanted more time, so the nation could “properly celebrate and coordinate events and national Hispanic Heritage month activities to honor Hispanic and Latino culture and achievements.”

In 1988, Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois) introduced a similar bill that successfully passed Congress and was signed by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988. And on September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush (who co-sponsored the original Hispanic Heritage Week resolution while serving in the House in 1968) became the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Latin Heritage month.

Over the decades, National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamations have been made by every sitting President of the United States.

What Are the Traditions of the Day?

What Are the Traditions of the Day?

National Hispanic Heritage Month traditionally honors the culture and contributions of famous Latinos in history and Hispanic Americans. The history and achievements of these groups in shaping the country are celebrated. 

How to celebrate Hispanic heritage month? The month is celebrated in many ways. Because several other holidays fall on this month — such as the independence days of several Hispanic countries — there are concerts, parades, food fairs, and more Hispanic heritage month activities throughout the month. Educational Hispanic culture events are also held, such as art exhibits highlighting important Latin American heroes in history. 

The U.S. government honors the immeasurable contributions of Hispanic Americans, namely to the economy, culture and society.

How to Celebrate This Month?

  • Plan a fiesta. Have a fiesta with delicious food, mariachi music, and sombreros for everyone!
  • Get the kids involved in the visual arts. Ignite young minds by introducing them to Latin American art. Frida Kahlo's paintings, for example, are a good place to start!
  • Start learning Spanish. We all learned something in school, so why not add some variety! Who knows, you might find it useful.

Who Are the Influential Hispanic Figures?

Influential Hispanic figures: writers, artists, actors, singers, filmmakers, and fashion designers figure prominently in American art. We've gathered eight remarkable, important Hispanic figures in our history who draw inspiration from their Hispanic roots.ё

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera

Singer Christina Aguilera, the daughter of an Ecuadorian immigrant, has a powerful voice that has earned her five Grammy Awards and one Latin American Grammy Award. She rose to prominence as a singer with the release of her debut album, Christina Aguilera, in 1999. Subsequent albums have brought her worldwide success, and in total, more than 25 million copies of Aguilera's albums have been sold worldwide.

Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez's compositions are filled with her vivid memories of growing up in the Dominican Republic and adapting to life in New York City. Alvarez first gained popularity as a poet but is best known for her novels such as How the Garcia Girls Got Rid of the Accent, Butterfly Time, and Before We Were Free. In 2013, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Achievement in the Arts for her “superb storytelling prowess.”

She is one of the most successful Latina writers of her generation, both critically and commercially. Alvarez currently teaches creative writing at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Narciso Rodriguez 

Narciso Rodriguez

Narciso Rodriguez, the son of Cuban immigrants, has gained worldwide fame as a fashion designer. After graduating from the Parsons School of Design in New York, he worked at the fashion houses of Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, and Cerruti. He rose to fame in 1996 after he designed Caroline Bessette's dress for her wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. Rodriguez also designed clothes for U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Benicio Del Toro 

Benicio Del Toro

Benicio del Toro, an Oscar-winning actor and film producer, moved to Pennsylvania at age 13. He is best known for his roles in such films as “The Usual Suspects,” “Basquiat,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Traffic,” “The Big Score,” “21 Grams,” “Sin City” and “Che.” 

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba

Film and television actress Jessica Alba began appearing on-screen at the age of 13 and gained fame as the lead actress in the sci-fi television series “Dark Angel.” 

Frank Romero

Frank Romero

Frank Romero is a Mexican-American muralist. For more than 40 years, his muralists, prints and exhibitions have spread the ideals of La Raza, a nonprofit organization that works to expand opportunities for people of Latin American descent. In 1974, as a member of the Chicano art collective Los Four, Romero helped organize the country's first exhibition of Chicano art at a major art institution. Since then, he has created more than 15 murals throughout Los Angeles and has exhibited widely in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Junot Diaz 

Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz came to the United States at the age of six and grew up in New Jersey. In 2008, his first novel, The Short and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, won the National Literary Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Diaz currently teaches literary writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a founding member of the Voices of Our Country Art Foundation, which organizes creative writing workshops for black writers.

Jennifer Lopez 

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, an actress, singer, record producer, dancer, fashion designer and television producer of Puerto Rican descent, is perhaps the best-known of influential Hispanic Americans and performers in the United States. Lopez is an advocate of human rights and children's vaccinations and an active supporter of Children's Hospital, Los Angeles.
Latin Americans have played an important role in the prosperity of the United States. Their Hispanic contribution to American culture is immeasurable, and they embody the best American values. The Hispanic-American community has left an indelible mark on U.S. culture and economy.

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