What is the Hispanic Heritage Month?

The Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of American citizens who have ancestors from Hispanic or Latino countries. These countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Before being celebrated from September 15 to October 15, like it is now, it was just a week when it started in 1968. 20 years afterward, in 1988, the festival was expanded to a full month. Unlike other celebrations, like Black History Month (which is celebrated throughout February), Hispanic Heritage Month begins in the middle of the month instead of the beginning. This is because the 15th marks the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile followed shortly after on the 16th and 18th. Lastly, Spain’s National Festival also lands on October 13, two days before the end of the celebrations.

Hispanic Heritage Month honors the generations of Hispanic/Latino Americans who’ve confidently moved and influenced the country and community. Activist Dolores Huerta, baseball player Roberto Clemente, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor are just three of the many Hispanic influencers celebrated this month.

In order to celebrate, people in the United States organize events to honor Latino culture. For example, in the Bronx, New York, the El Barrio Latin Jazz festival takes place, and the Northwest; Arkansas Hispanic Heritage Festival in Fayetteville also celebrates Hispanic culture.

It is important to celebrate this month, as, according to the Pew Research Center, almost a fifth of the U.S. population is Hispanic. Hispanics in the United States are the 2nd fastest-growing ethnic group after Asians. 49 years ago they only made up 5% of the population. There are about 35.3 million citizens of Mexican origin and 5.3 million of Puerto Rican heritage. In addition, 1 million each of Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Colombians live in the U.S.

Although the Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States, Latinos around the globe are always welcome to embrace their roots and to honor their home countries. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!