Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month! This celebratory month kicked off Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15, giving plenty of time to enjoy your local Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
There are a variety of Hispanic and Latino cultures in the United States with their own unique traditions, foods, histories and more. National Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to celebrate these cultures, as well as to learn more about them and support them.
When was National Hispanic Heritage Month first celebrated in the U.S.?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Hispanic Heritage Month was first celebrated in 1968. Back then, it was only celebrated as “Hispanic Heritage Week.” It was officially extended to a month in 1988, giving ample time for people to celebrate.
National Hispanic Heritage Month also encapsulates multiple Latin American independence days, such as the Independence Day of Honduras on Sept. 15, Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16 and much more.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated on Sept. 15th?
Per NationalHispanicHeritageMonth.gov, “The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.”
What is the theme of National Hispanic Heritage month this year?
This year’s theme, chosen by the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers, is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”
Ily Soares, supervisory accountant at Farm Credit Administration, was the theme winner this year. She said, “Hispanics in the United States are a diverse group who bring a rich combination of language, culture, educational backgrounds, and experience to the great American experiment. This diverse background brings with it a wealth of ideas and perspectives.”
“One uniting factor within our Hispanic community is our desire to be included and represented in all aspects of American society,” Soares continued. “As has been proven, when different voices are sitting at the metaphorical table and included in key decisions, the entire community benefits from greater solutions that address concerns from all people.”
How to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month this year
1. Learn more about the Hispanic experience in the U.S.
The first step to supporting minorities in the United States is to understand their experiences. Fernada Ponce’s TED Talk, “What Being Hispanic and Latinx Means in the United States,” is a great place to start. Here are some additional videos about the Hispanic experience:
- America Ferrera: “My identity is a superpower — not an obstacle”
- Raquél Peréz: “Representation Matters — Latinx in Mainstream Media”
- Vanessa Vancour: “I’m Mexican. Does that change your assumptions about me?”
- Alejandro Jimenez: “Machismo hurts men too”
- Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez: What’s missing from the American immigrant narrative
- Sadie Ortiz: Battling Cultural Stereotypes
If you’re looking for additional resources, the National Museum of the American Latino has great resources, including bilingual materials and resources specifically for National Hispanic Heritage Month.
2. Support Hispanic-owned small businesses
We all know that small businesses took a significant hit over the pandemic. You can kill two birds with one stone by supporting Hispanic-owned small businesses this month.
Hispanic-owned businesses make up a huge percentage of businesses in the United States. According to the Joint Economic Committee Hispanic Entrepreneurship and Business Brief, about 1 in 4 new businesses are Hispanic-owned. Here are some more stats:
- Roughly 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses contribute over $800 billion to the American economy each year.
- In the United States and District of Colombia, there are about 300,000 Hispanic-owned employer businesses, meaning they “employ at least one employee, other than the owner.”
- Hispanic employer businesses employ approximately 3 million workers. They have over $100 billion in yearly payroll.
If you’re looking for Hispanic-owned businesses to support this month, here are a few, per NBC:
- Mighty Kind: An education company that releases children’s books about bias, inclusion and diversity.
- Hedley & Bennet: Makes high-quality, hand-crafted aprons and other accessories.
- Bonita Fierce: Creates candles with Latino-inspired scents.
- Vamigas: Sells beauty and skincare infused with Latin-American plants.
- Wool & Indigo: A home goods small business that sells pillows, rugs and more.
3. Read a book by a Hispanic or Latino author
A great way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month is by reading some Hispanic or Latino literature. Whether it’s contemporary or classic literature, there are a lot of beautifully translated works to choose from:
- “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Záfon.
- “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes.
- “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
- “The Witness” by Juan Jose Saer.
- “Collected Fictions” by Jorge Luis Borges.
If you’re looking for more books by Hispanic or Latino authors, Barnes & Nobles has an extensive list of books to check out.
4. Try a Hispanic or Latino dish
National Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity finally make that Hispanic dish that you’ve been dying to try. Hispanic dishes range greatly based on the country — each Hispanic or Latino country has its own specific culture, and therefore its own cuisine.
Luckily for you, that just means that there’s more food to try. Here are some Hispanic and Latino dishes for you to try:
- Ropa Vieja, from Cuba.
- Mofongo, from The Dominican Republic.
- Tortilla Espanola, from Spain.
- Completo, from Chile.
- Tamales, from Mexico.
- Pupusas, from El Salvador.
5. Participate in your local National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations
There are probably a ton of National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations happening around you. If you live in Utah, the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs has a whole list of events happening locally this month.
Here are a few you could check out:
- Festival Latino de Payson, Sept. 24.
- Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Decorating, Sept. 29.
- Ogden Hispanic Festival, Oct. 10.
- Moving Forward Together Youth Summit!, Oct. 29.