Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), also known as Latinx Heritage Month, brings people together to celebrate and reflect on the countless contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans and immigrants in the United States.
It’s an opportunity for us to both teach and learn something new, observe the abundance of holidays and history-rich events during September and October, and enjoy music, stories, art and delicious food from a variety of cultures and traditions.
¡A celebrar! Let’s celebrate!
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In 1968 Hispanic Heritage Week was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. President Ronald Reagan signed the expansion to Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, and today it’s observed and celebrated every year from September 15 to October 15.
The mouthwatering, inspiring, myth-busting, eye-opening, musical and educational contributions made by Hispanic and Latinx people come from
the nearly 9,000 mile span of the Americas—from Nunavut, Canada, to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
Their art, foods, literature, religious traditions, music and work ethic complemented traditions that already thrived in the US, often creating a uniquely American fusion. Examples range from popular foods such as tamales and empanadas to mojitos and margaritas to the reggaeton beats that regularly top the charts.
Of course, it’s not just about fun and food. Hispanic and Latinx Americans, together with other communities of underrepresented people, push for equality, workers’ rights, fair wages and educational opportunities. From the strawberry fields of California to the baseball fields of New York to the rocket-launch fields of Cape Canaveral, Florida, their work matters more today than ever.
Hispanic Heritage Month honors these and other meaningful contributions and spotlights traditions, cultural practices, languages and even whole histories that have been suppressed or undervalued in the past. Today these can be freely commemorated, celebrated and shared with the new generations.
Here are some ideas and ways to celebrate and observe this month. Some are especially fun for children, too.
- Discover a book: The month can be a great reminder to get intentional about reading books that explore Latinx experience, particularly those written by Latinx writers. Fiction or nonfiction, in Spanish, English or another language, there are plenty of great book options for adults, as well as titles perfect for sharing with kids.
- Watch a movie: Whether you prefer historical dramas, documentaries or romantic comedies, movies can offer a meaningful glimpse into Latinx experience without requiring a huge time commitment. You can find critically acclaimed films for adult audiences along with plenty of family-friendly viewing options.
- Listen to music: Latin pop, Latin jazz, salsa, reggaeton, cumbia, alternativo, Tejano…there are as many Latinx music genres to explore as there are Latin American nations you could visit. And if you need something to get you in the spirit, here’s one playlist to get your feet moving.
- Go to an event to observe, eat and dance: Your local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce or community center can point the way to special events. If your city hosts a consulate from a Latin American country, they will likely sponsor cultural events. Often these are free and include exhibits, kids’ activities, lectures, food and music. Local schools and churches sometimes host family events that include indoor and outdoor activities.
- Ask questions: Do you have a friend or know someone who is a Hispanic American or immigrant? Ask thoughtful questions, be curious and respectful, and listen. Ask to see photos, too—they’re great conversation starters.
- Go deeper: Explore more about HHM at the official website. And check the language or Hispanic/Latinx studies departments at local colleges and universities for lectures, workshops, theater performances, guest speakers and trips.
Hispanic and Latinx Americans and immigrants come from different backgrounds rich in culture and history, arts and ideas. And though language and a colonial past may connect Hispanics and Latinx people, the diversity in their backgrounds and identities is cause for celebration, too.
Traditions deriving from ancient cultures such as the Inca, the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Taino, enslaved people from Africa and hundreds of others add richness to the American experience, giving all of us plenty of opportunities to explore something new.
Even if you’ve never observed Hispanic Heritage Month before, it’s never too late to start celebrating the vibrancy and rich history of Hispanic-American culture. This year, why not plan on taking part in a local event or exhibit? Or how about starting with something easy like a book, a movie or a playlist? Something for the whole family?
¡Busquemos un poco más! Let’s explore more ahead!
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