One of the many beauties to appreciate about living in the United States is the various cultures we have living with one another and how they contribute to a plethora of beliefs and practices in our society. The exciting part of being Hispanic, not all Hispanic cultures are the same. Just like you would suspect of various regions of the United States or Europe even, Hispanic cultures have different norms, eat different foods and practice different religions depending on geographic location and ancestry. September 15 to October 15 marks the Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States.
What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
It’s a time that we recognize the culture, contributions, and history of the Hispanic community in the United States. It was first observed in 1968 when California Congressman George E. Brown pushed to recognize the Hispanic community. Congressman Brown represented the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley area which was heavily populated by LatinX communities. Hispanic Heritage began to be celebrated one weekend out of the year. Two decades later, it was stretched out to a month-long celebration. The Hispanic culture is found in multiple countries-Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela. Hispanic culture is worldwide. In general, one of the main reasons Hispanic Heritage Month was adopted from September 15 to October 15 in America, is because September 15 marks the independence of Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica from Spain. Mexico celebrates independence from Spain on September 16 and Chile celebrates its independence on Sept. 18.
Another fun fact worth mentioning is, not all Hispanics are LatinX. Many people use these two terms conversely, however it is incorrect. A Hispanic person is an individual who comes from a Spanish-speaking country. A LatinX is a person that comes from a Latin-American country. So a Spaniard is identified as Hispanic but not LatinX. The word Hispanic is linked to Spain; hence, the reason we have so much difference in culture in a person from Mexico compared to an individual born in Spain. Both speak the same language, but were raised in very different societies and customs. CLICK HERE to learn more about the history of terms used. (Scroll to the bottom for a list of Hispanic and LatinX countries.)
According to Statista and Pew Research Center, the current Hispanic population as of 2021 living in the United States is 62 million people, making up around 18% of the total population of the United States. What is more intriguing is that the Hispanic population can be of any race; hence, why completing surveys we have the option to mark Hispanic or Non-Hispanic. A Hispanic can be Asian Hispanic, Black Hispanic, White Hispanic, etc. There is definitive look or generalization that can categorize those with Hispanic descent. For example, the table below shows a Census of Hispanic individuals in the United States as of 2000-2022:
So how do we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
National Hispanic Heritage month honors the traditions, culture and contributions in our society from both Hispanic and LatinX Americans. All month long throughout the United States, it is celebrated by parades, fiestas, carnivals, concerts, museum exhibits, and fairs to name a few.
I personally recommend that you take advantage of the many celebrations to learn from the culture, and perhaps the best part, TASTE THE FOOD! It is so important to keep an open mind and enrich our lives through the experiences of others' viewpoints and norms. Every culture has wisdom to share, which can help us expand and grow. Additionally, it is important to teach our children or other generations the value of acculturating to others’ beliefs, so that they may learn to respect and appreciate the history and challenges that other cultures experience.
There are many ways to celebrate this month. Stuck at the office? Try decorating with some paper flowers or flags for a little boost of morale, or create a foodie challenge for others to bring a dish from a Hispanic country. You may even decide to host a movie night featuring your favorite hispanic actor or producer. If you are not ready to go out in public yet, then relax and enjoy some virtual options instead. Culture is all around us and you can use your creative juices to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Want to expand your cultural knowledge or further appreciate your own? Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We look forward to working with you!
– Yajaira Escobedo, LMSW, LCDC, TFCBT, CCTP
List of Hispanic countries:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Puerto Rico
List of Latino (LatinX) countries are: