Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Written by: Olivia Frymark

Each year, we celebrate and observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th through October 15th to honor the culture and contributions brought to America by those of Hispanic descent.

Hispanic Heritage Month initially began as a week-long observation in 1968 under President Johnson. The observation was later extended to a month-long celebration during President Reagan’s term in 1988. Since then, National Hispanic Heritage Month has begun on September 15th.

The observance begins halfway through the month of September to commemorate the beginning of several Latin American countries’ independence days. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate their Independence Day on the 15th, Mexico celebrates on the 16th, Chile celebrates on the 18th, and Belize celebrates on the 21st.

Dia De La Raza (or the Day of Race), another widely celebrated day within Latinx culture, also falls within the month-long observance on October 12th this year. Most people living in Spanish-speaking countries consider Dia De La Raza to be a national holiday. Many families and friends get together for big fiestas with singing and dancing. They eat traditional meals such as tamales and participate in fun piñata games.

Coinciding dates with what has been previously known as Columbus Day, Dia De La Raza celebrates the heritage and traditions of Spanish cultures that were destroyed due to European colonization.

The United States now commemorates this day as Indigenous Peoples Day for the same reason. The observance serves as a reminder of all of the challenges Indigenous people have faced living in our country.

To help further bridge that gap, we encourage our community members to learn more about Hispanic culture during this time, celebrate, and appreciate its contributions to popular culture.

This upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month, there are many different things we can do to further our education on and celebration of this community.

  • Visit a museum about Hispanic culture. Our home of Washington DC has the great resources of the Smithsonian Latino Center to learn from.
  • Enjoy a classic Latin American dish and learn about the history of the recipe (Try our tasty chicken tamale recipe!)
  • Support a Hispanic-owned business
  • Learn one of the traditional dances of the Hispanic community – the mambo, rumba, cha-cha or flamenco
  • Watch a documentary about Hispanic culture or watch a movie with lead Hispanic representation
  • Explore new musical artists
  • Read books by Hispanic authors
  • If you can, donate in support of a Hispanic charity or volunteer at a local organization