Facebook Twitter

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Why is it in September?

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, this year’s theme of ‘Unidos’ celebrates the largest U.S. immigrant population

SHARE National Hispanic Heritage Month: Why is it in September?
Mili Silos, 11, performs at the Salt Lake City-County Building during a celebration marking Hispanic Heritage Month in 2021. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month will celebrate the largest group of immigrants in the U.S.

Mili Silos, 11, performs a traditional ballet folklorico at the Salt Lake City-County Building during a celebration to mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15, 2021.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Since its founding, the United States has been a nation of immigrants and today is no different.

“During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize that Hispanic heritage is American heritage,” said President Joseph Biden in a 2021 address to the nation.

That message is in line with this year’s theme: “Unidos” signifies inclusivity to make a stronger nation.

“The past year has been one unlike any in recent memory,” said Victor Anthony Zertuche, an attorney-adviser at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and creator of this year’s theme. “But despite how our world has changed, we’ve kept our eyes on the horizon — we’ve held onto our hope. This theme celebrates our Hispanic heritage and our resilience. It inspires us to recognize that we are stronger together and reminds us that although we are apart, with hope we are not alone.”

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month will celebrate “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

Why September?

From mid-September to mid-October, seven Latin countries gained independence, making it a prime time to celebrate.

On Sept. 15, nations including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate their independence.

And Sept. 16 marks just over 200 years of independence for Mexico, while Chile gained its independence on Sept. 18, 1818.

Oct. 12 is the “Día de la Raza” in Spanish — more commonly known as “Columbus Day” in the states.

Why celebrate?

“Unidos” signifies inclusivity to make a stronger nation.

The U.S. Latino population has been growing since 1970, which is why in 1988 President Ronald Reagan expanded the weeklong celebration into the monthlong event it is now.

More than 62 million U.S. Latinos were from — or descended from — Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, making up 19% of the U.S. population in 2019, per the United States Census Bureau.

That number continues to grow.

The majority of U.S. Latinos come from or are decendants of those from Mexico and Costa Rico. But more than a million immigrants come from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Chile respectively, as reported by Pew Research.

This large part of the population, Biden said, are engineers, health care professionals, scientists, manual laborers, teachers and soldiers, to name a few occupations.

“The theme invites us to celebrate Hispanic Heritage and to reflect on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto our resilience and hope,” the press release on the Hispanic Month website said. “It is also a reminder that we are stronger together.”

A website to honor U.S. Latinos will showcase online exhibits, audio and videos presented by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.