What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Caitlyn Begosa
Caitlyn Begosa

| 3 min read

Celebrating the cultures, achievements and traditions of the Hispanic community, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15.
This month is used to recognize the widespread impact Hispanic and Latinx communities have on American history and culture.
Both Hispanic and Latinx people are celebrated during the month, but these terms aren’t always interchangeable.
  • Hispanic refers to someone from a Spanish-speaking country or is of a Spanish-speaking country descent.
  • Latino/Latina/Latinx refers to someone from a Latin American country or is of Latin American descent.
These groups have different cultures, traditions and history but are united through the Spanish language.
This month celebrates the largest minority community in the United States, representing around 19% of the total population of the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic and Latinx population include over 62 million people. Some of the different nationalities that are a part of this community in the U.S. are:
  • Mexican: 60.5 million people
  • Puerto Rican: 5.8 million
  • Cuban: 2.4 million
  • Salvadoran: 2.3 million
  • Dominican: 2.1 million
  • Guatemalan: 1.7 million
  • Colombian: 1.2 million
  • Honduran: 1.1 million

Why we celebrate

The idea of Hispanic Heritage Month was first introduced when the Hispanic community became a notable figure in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Establishing this month recognized the role and contribution these Hispanic communities had in American history.
On September 17, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first Hispanic Heritage Week, which would later be expanded to a month-long celebration during George H.W. Bush’s presidency in 1988.
Instead of starting this month on the first, September 15was chosen to recognize the independence day celebrations of various Latin American countries, which include Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua. As well, the date also honors the nations of Mexico, Chile and Belize, which also celebrate their independence in late September.

Ways to celebrate

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, there will be events nationally and locally. Find ways to get involved by keeping an eye out for events happening in your area.
Here are some other ways to observe Hispanic Heritage Month, and celebrate the culture of the Hispanic and Latinx community in the U.S.:
  • Eat at a Hispanic restaurant or try to cook a Latin dish.
  • Take a Latin dance class and listen to Latin music.
  • Listen to TEDTalks and podcasts hosted by Hispanic and Latinx people.
  • Visit museums that have exhibitions about Latin and Hispanic art or history.
  • Take a virtual tour of sites important to Hispanic and Latin culture like Machu Pichu in Peru and Angel Falls in Venezuela.
  • Support Hispanic-owned businesses.
  • Learn about impactful Hispanic Americans who have influenced American history such as Rita Moreno, Cesar Chavez and Sonia Sotomayor.

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