Hispanic Heritage Month Facts
Once mid-September hits, social media, news outlets, schools and stores in the US fill with posts, advertisements and information about Hispanic Heritage Month. All the hype may have left you wondering what Hispanic Heritage Month is really all about. Here are the facts about Hispanic Heritage Month with everything you need to know including:
- What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
- When is Hispanic Heritage Month?
- Why is Hispanic Heritage Month split between September and October?
- Where is Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated?
- Who does Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrate?
- The history of Hispanic Heritage Month
- How to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
So what is Hispanic Heritage Month? Well Hispanic Heritage Month is a thirty day period set aside to recognize the impact, achievements and successes of the Latinx community.
The goal is multifaceted: to celebrate those achievements and inspire others, help those who don’t identify as Hispanic or Latino to learn more about the culture and bring greater awareness to issues within the Latinx community that we can work together to change.
When is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated every year from September 15th to October 15th.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Month split between September and October?
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th because the date marks the anniversary of the day several Central American countries gained independence, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Mexico’s independence day is just a day later, on September 16th. Chile’s independence day, which is on September 18th, also falls within the celebration month.
Where is Hispanic Heritage month celebrated?
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States. It is not currently celebrated around the world.
Who does Hispanic Heritage Month celebrate?
Although people often use the words Latino and Hispanic interchangeably, they actually have different meanings.
In a nutshell, Hispanic refers to people from Spanish speaking countries and Latino refers to people from countries in Latin America. Therefore, there is some confusion about who Hispanic Heritage Month actually celebrates.
The name would imply that it is a month to honor Spanish-speaking people.
However, there has been a recent push to rebrand the month to make it more inclusive. Renaming it Latinx Heritage month would broaden the spectrum to include non-Spanish speaking countries in Latin America, such as Brazil. It would be more inclusive of Latinos of African descent.
The History of Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage month began as just a week long celebration in 1968 under US President Lyndon Johnson. George Edward Brown of California submitted the bill during the 90th congress.
In 1987, Representative Esteban Torres of California submitted a bill to expand Hispanic Heritage week to a month. His bill unfortunately did not pass.
However, Senator Paul Simon of Illinois proposed a similar bill that was passed and enacted into law on August 17th, 1988 under President Ronald Regan.
Why is Hispanic Heritage month Celebrated?
Hispanic Heritage Month was originally proposed to highlight the influence of Hispanic-Americans throughout history and in our current society. The week was also used to increase interest and raise funds for causes that supported Hispanic communities.
At the time the original Hispanic Heritage Month was approved, the Hispanic people in the US were pushing for greater inclusion and representation.
Representative Torres proposed the expansion of the Hispanic Heritage celebration from a week to a month in order to provide enough time to properly share the heritage and legacy of the Hispanic community with the rest of the rest of the population.
Today, the celebration is still largely focused on sharing culture, highlighting contributions and raising awareness to needs of the Hispanic community. However, we not only focus on the history but also the Latino community of today.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Month Important?
Latinos make up 18% of the US population, according to the 2020 US Census. However, they are grossly underrepresented in our media, history books, and mainstream culture. It is important to set aside time to focus on their accomplishments and achievements to insure they are not missed.
Latinos are also the fastest growing community in the US. Raising awareness about the issues the Latinx community faces and working together to solve those problems will create a better society for us all.
How NOT to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Before we dive into some great ways to honor the influence of the Latinx community in American culture, here are a few small warnings:
Try not to stick with the stereotypes.
Much of Hispanic/Latinx culture that has become mainstream has been very white-washed and Americanized.
Believe it or not, Latinos don’t eat crunchy tacos full of lettuce and cheese, real tacos look quite different.
Most don’t wear sombreros or sarapes on a regular basis. They listen to more than just salsa music and Pablo Picasso and Selena aren’t the only great Latino artists.
Instead of sticking with what you know, push past the stereotypes and seek to learn more.
Don’t settle, a month is not enough.
We like to pretend like “heritage months” are inclusion and a celebration of diversity. However, if we were truly an inclusive society, we wouldn’t need a month to remind us to talk about the people we forgot and glossed over.
Having a month dedicated to celebrating the Latinx community is part of the problem.
History is history. Influential people are influential people.
We shouldn’t need a special month to highlight this community. It should be done everyday in mainstream textbooks, media and culture.
Don’t just honor people of color when the calendar reminds you to do so. Do it every day.
It’s not about buying things. It is about celebrating people.
Companies love using Hispanic Heritage Month to sell more products.
Instead of basing your celebration around Coronas, El Paso products and Disney’s Coco, try to support real people with your purchases, like the local Latino Bakery or Grocery store.
Better yet, seek to learn about people and make new fiends instead of just buying things.
How to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Here are 16 ways you can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at school, at home, at work, and virtually.
1. Read Books
2. Learn Spanish
Here is a list of great free resources to help you get started.
3. Listen to music
Your class is sure to enjoy any of these Spanish songs for kids.
4. Watch movies about Latin American life and culture
Here are 22 great options.
5. Learn to Dance
Use these mini Latin American dance lessons as fun brain breaks.
6. Make crafts
This list is full of easy craft ideas that would work for all ages.
7. Create a Hispanic Heritage Month bulletin board.
Here are some great ideas:
- Post flags of different Spanish speaking countries with facts and information.
- Put up biographies of influential Latinos.
- Print out recipes and images of traditional foods.
- Put up images of famous art and information about the artists.
You can find visual examples of these ideas here.
8. Decorate your classroom
This list of ideas skips over the stereotypes and focuses on decorations based on accurate, authentic cultural traditions and information.
Many of the ideas listed above for teachers at school would work for families as well. However, since you don’t have to cart an entire class around with you, here are a few additional ideas you could implement together as a family at home.
9. Attend a cultural festival
However, be sure to know the pros and cons of cultural festivals before you go so that you can make the most of your experience.
10. Go to an authentic restaurant.
How can you know it’s authentic? If the menu is written in Spanish and the owners are Hispanic/Latino, its probably pretty authentic.
11. Visit a museum
If you want to bring the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration into the office, you can use many of the ideas above by adding a professional twist.
12. Put up a display
Make a display of influential people, artwork, information, etc. to help your coworkers learn more about Hispanic Heritage.
13. Invite a speaker
Invite someone to share about Hispanic Culture and customs and how to make the workplace more inclusive.
14. Eat lunch at a local Latino Restaurant
Just make sure it is authentic
15. Host an office fund raiser
This could be for a charity or cause benefitting the Latinx community.
16. Celebrate Virtually
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our normal gatherings and celebrations have had to go virtual. Luckily, you can easily take many of the ideas above and turn them virtual to keep the celebration alive. In fact, the virtual world may actually give you more options because you are no longer limited by your geographic location.
- Use platforms like Fundly or DonateKindly to manage your fund raiser.
- Host your speaker, dance class, read aloud, etc. on a virtual meeting platform like GoogleMeet or Zoom.
- Go on a virtual field trip. These five museums offer virtual options for Hispanic Heritage Month.
- Have a movie watch party. Many movie streaming services offer the option to virtually watch a movie with others.
Go Beyond the Stereotypes of Hispanic Heritage Month
Regardless of where you are, or how you choose to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, be sure to take some time between September 15th and October 15th to honor the impact and influence of the Hispanic/Latinx community. Instead of buying into the commercial hype, seek to elevate the voices of the Latinx community and learn more about the culture, and move beyond the stereotypes.
How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Let us know!