Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States
What Is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is the annual celebration of Latino and Hispanic history and culture. Hispanic Heritage Month began as a week-long observance under President Lydon Johnson, but in 1998 President Ronald Reagan expanded the holiday to a 30-day celebration. Through recognition, education, and celebration, we can all honor the contributions and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans who have made an impact in America and around the world.
When Is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month runs every year from September 15th – October 15th. This timeframe is significant because it includes many important holidays in Latin America. On September 15th, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua celebrate Independence Day. September 16th, 18th, and 21st mark the Independence Days of Mexico, Chile, and Belize. Día de la Raza, or Race Day, falls on October 12th and commemorates Latin America's heritage and cultural diversity.
How To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Anyone can participate in Hispanic Heritage Month. If you are of Latin or Hispanic descent, you can spend the month learning more about your family history and traditions and sharing these with those around you. If your ancestors aren’t from Latin America, it is a wonderful opportunity to educate yourself about Latin culture and prominent historical figures. Most cities hold local festivals, parties, parades, art shows, concerts, conferences, and more to celebrate this annual event. It’s also a great time to get the family involved and encourage kids to experience Hispanic culture from an early age.
We’ve pulled together a list of activities to seek out and learn from this month. Get involved and have some fun no matter how old, young, or adventurous you are!
Explore New Cuisine
Nothing gives you a taste of Latin culture better than enjoying traditional food. While many Americans are familiar with Mexican dishes, they may be surprised to find how much they enjoy Brazilian, Cuban, or Venezuelan flavors. Check out local restaurants specializing in Latin cuisine to give your palette a new experience. Plus, you’ll likely be supporting a Hispanic-owned business. If you enjoy cooking, you can try new recipes at home and involve the family.
Our top Latin American recipe recommendations include:
- Chilean Empanadas, baked or fried pastry turnover filled with savory ingredients
- Cuban Ropa Vieja, savory shredded beef stew in a tomato-based sauce
- Guatemalan Pepián, a rich stew prepared with meat, vegetables, and roasted spices
- Brazilian Pão de Queijo, cheese bread puffs
- Colombian Carne Guisada, beef stew with roasted potatoes and a richly spiced sauce
- Nicaraguan Tres Leches Cake, light and spongy cake topped with whipped cream
- Mexican Chocoflan (The Impossible Chocolate Cake), rich chocolate cake and creamy vanilla flan
Mix Up Your Movie Night
Watching a good film can take you from your couch and immerse you into the day-to-day life of a different culture. The surroundings, architecture, clothing, and character relationships give you a glimpse into a society's traditions, values, and struggles. And there are plenty of award-winning films and documentaries highlighting Latin American culture to choose from.
Below are some of our top movie night recommendations for adults:
- Real Women Have Curves
- City of God
- Maria Full of Grace
- I'm Leaving Now
- The Motorcycle Diaries
Family movie night is a fun way for children to experience different cultures. Watch these films together and talk about the clothing, buildings, food, and other traditions you notice. This will help your kids recognize and appreciate cultural differences in their world.
Our top kid-friendly movie recommendations are:
Put On Your Dancing Shoes
Dancing is a huge part of Hispanic culture. Dance brings family and friends together in an emotional connection to the music and traditions of their ancestors. You'll often see traditional dances passed down from generation to generation at social celebrations, such as birthdays, weddings, and festivals.
You can join in the fun by attending a dance class, going out on the town, or having a dance party in the living room with the kids. There are countless styles and variations of Latin American dances. And plenty of Spotify stations and playlists can get you in the mood with traditional music.
Below are some of the most famous Spanish dance steps you can learn:
Explore Local Events
Find out what is happening locally by using your Google search bar or asking around. You may be surprised to discover just how many Hispanic Heritage Month Events are happening in your town. Many museums and libraries host exhibits to honor Latin American culture. Art shows are extremely popular this time of year and often feature Q&As with Latin American artists. Restaurants and bars run specials and host parties. Cities and neighborhoods often put on festivals and block parties that include food, music, art, dancing, and kid activities. Attending local events is a fun way to celebrate, learn something new, and support your economy.
Expand Your Library
If you would rather stay in with a good book than hit the dance floor or a local festival, this next section is for you. Research shows that reading for pleasure can increase empathy, improve relationships, and promote overall well-being. And this month, you can celebrate Latin American heritage by diving into books by Hispanic authors shaping today’s culture. We’ve compiled a list of recommended works to help you explore new worlds, expand your horizons, and enjoy yourself this Hispanic Heritage Month:
Book recommendations for adults:
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
- Dominicana by Angie Cruz
- Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet
- It is Wood, It is Stone: A Novel by Gabriella Burnham
- Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernandez
- Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernández Castillo
- When I was Puerto Rican by Esmerelda Santiago
- Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
- The Last Karankawas by Kimberly Garza
- Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Book recommendations for kids:
- Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
- Viva Frida! by Yuyi Morales
- Abuela by Arthur Dorros
- Gracias by Pat Mora
- My Name is Celia by Monica Brown
- My Diary From Here to There by Amada Irma Perez
- Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle
- A Library for Juana by Pat Mora
- Dia De Los Muertos by Roseanne Thong
- Turning Pages by Sonia Sotomayor
Support The Latin American Community
Participating in Hispanic Heritage Month events, educating yourself, and raising awareness of this annual holiday are all ways you can support the Latin American Community. You can also give business to Latino-owned businesses in your area or online. You may consider following Latin American influencers or subscribing to Latino podcasts. If you’re feeling charitable, you can also donate to philanthropic organizations.
Below are a few non-profits focused on promoting the Hispanic community and improving education, inclusion, health, and businesses:
- HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities)
- HSF (Hispanic Scholarship Fund)
- NHMA (National Hispanic Medical Association)
- HHF (Hispanic Heritage Foundation)
- HACR (Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility)
At Health Hispanica, we invite you to learn more about what makes this celebration meaningful and continue to support the Latin community all year. Everyone has special gifts and unique ways to give back. As Hispanic Americans with a background in natural healing and nutraceuticals, we are passionate about educating our community about health and wellness. We provide quality supplements at fair prices, plus information and recommendations about important health topics to help keep our community healthy and strong.