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National Hispanic Heritage Month 2023
America has been shaped and built by generations of people from around the world. Hispanic community members are proud to share their rich histories, cultures, and their many valued contributions to the USA.
That’s why every year from September 15th to October 15th, the US celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month (2023).
This month celebrates the many Hispanic Americans and those abroad who have influenced America. Although nearly one out of every five Americans are Hispanic, there are still a lot of people who aren’t aware of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Keep reading to discover why the US has this month-long observance, along with some interesting facts and history
Why September 15th?
First observed as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, it grew to a full month in 1988. Starting Hispanic Heritage Month 15 days into September may seem odd but there’s a good reason.
September 15th is a significant date for many Central American countries. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate their independence days on the 15th. Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16th while Chile celebrates on the 18th.
Theme: Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One
The empowering theme for 2023 is “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One.”
In the beginning, teachers were encouraged to add Hispanic achievements into their curriculum during this celebration. Now, Hispanic Heritage Month has grown into a diverse international celebration that people of all ages and walks of life participate in.
2023 National Hispanic Heritage Month Poster
by Mr. Boris A. Jiron
Now more than ever, Hispanic Americans are eager to share both their differences and similarities.
Famous Hispanic Americans
The world wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions of notable Hispanic figures. Their influence has enriched American culture, cities, art, cuisine, academics, politics, and ways of life.
It’s no wonder there are so many famous Hispanic Americans since the US has the second highest number of Hispanic people (62.6 million) of any country. America is only surpassed in Hispanic population by Mexico.
Here are just a few of the famous figures who have left their mark on science, politics, and entertainment:
● Ellen Ochoa – Millions of young boys and girls looked up to this Mexican-American astronaut who was the first Hispanic woman in space.
● Jennifer Lopez – The entertainment world was changed by JLo, a stunning Grammy-award-winning performer, actress, and proud Puerto Rican.
● Lin-Manuel Miranda – The man who brought America the side-splitting Tony-award-winning Broadway play, Hamilton, is of Puerto Rican descent.
● Sonia Sotomayor – The first Latina in the US Supreme Court broke barriers and showed Hispanic Americans that any dream is possible.
A Shared Language
The Hispanic world is vast and full of rich, varied cultures. They are brought together by a shared language. First added to the US census as an ethnicity option in 1970, Hispanic people identify as someone who is from or has ancestors from a Spanish-speaking territory or country.
There are 20 Hispanic countries and one US territory, all with their own unique traditions and indigenous languages (there are 68 native languages officially recognized in Mexico alone!).
The list of Hispanic countries and territories are :
As many as 572 million people speak Spanish worldwide. In the US, it is the most common language spoken in the household after English with 13% of the population considering it their native language.
As this number grows, this beautiful blending of American and Hispanic cultures will only continue to enrich the nation.
Hispanic and Latino are Distinct Identities
Assuming that Hispanic and Latino refer to the same thing is a common mistake.
Latino refers to those living or descending from people in Latin America. This includes Portuguese-speaking Brazil and excludes European Spain.
Many Latinos also identify as Hispanic. However, there are separate occasions celebrating Latinos in America.
Hispanic Heritage Month Activities
Now’s the time to immerse yourself in Hispanic cultural activities. Check your local community calendar to see if there are any festivals taking place. If not, you can always start your own festivities.
Some of the most engaging Hispanic traditions are dance and music! Sign up for an in-person class or head to YouTube to support Hispanic influencers who are happy to share their culture.
Hispanic dance and music include:
Mambo – A Cuban ballroom dance that took the New York social scene by storm in the 1970s.
Mariachi – This lively genre of music started in 18th-century Mexico and is now a familiar part of North American culture. Male and female singers and performers playing acoustic guitars and violins dress in beautiful sombreros and embellished suits called charros.
Merengue – A dance from the Dominican Republic that is known for being beginner-friendly and accessible for people of varying physical abilities.
Flamenco – Originating from Southern Spain, Flamenco dancing is known for the strong emotion that the dancers and guitar players display. The beautiful, ruffled dresses helped cement its place as an art form.
You can’t speak about culture without mentioning food. Luckily, Hispanic countries have some of the best in the world!
From the sharp, tangy flavors of Peruvian ceviche, to savory Argentinian empanadas, and the crunchy enchiladas of Guatemala, the mouth-watering cuisine from Hispanic countries can’t be beaten. Try your hand at making one of these delicious dishes on the links in the pictures.
Of course, it’s no secret that Americans have enjoyed a long-term love affair with Mexican food. According to Statista, Mexican cuisine is the 2nd most popular international cuisine in the country, just barely overtaken by Chinese.
Generations of Mexican descendants have changed up their grandparent’s traditional recipes with the popular flavors of the United States. Now, thanks to Hispanic influences, America has its own unique fusion cuisine, Tex-Mex. A blend of Texan and Mexican tastes, this one-of-a-kind American taste has spread throughout the nation.
Some of the most popular Tex-Mex dishes are sizzling fajitas, loaded nachos, and beef enchiladas.
Hispanic Heritage is a welcome part of American culture. This 31-day period is a wonderful way to celebrate the contributions of our friends and neighbors but let’s not forget to celebrate them in our daily lives as well.
For a fun night with family and friends consider celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a dinner, costume, games, and/or trivia.
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