The diverse population of the United States is largely credited to the Hispanic community. Making up 62.6 million people and 18.9% of the total population, this community brings a rich history and background to our country. Still, it seems that many don’t know much about the history of the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority. It is imperative that we share cultural and ethnic historical backgrounds as we march towards a more diverse and inclusive country.
In light of National Hispanic Heritage Month, I’d like to present the origins of the celebration and those it affects. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated and observed from the 15th of September until the 15th of October. The significance of these dates relates to the independence of many countries. September 15th is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and 18th.
Dia de la Raza also falls under this period on October 12th, commemorating Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World, which presented new opportunities for independence from Spain. This independence allowed each of these countries liberation, new freedoms and individual rights, and less restrictions. This day has different meanings for different countries. For America, it was the beginning of a new country, a new civilization in a promised land of opportunity. For Spain, it is known as National Holiday Day, originating from the proposed celebration that would unite Spain with Ibero-America by the President of the Ibero-American Union Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro Díaz-Argüelles. For other Latin-American countries, it meant celebrating the Hispanic-American culture that emerged in the 16th century as a result of the conquest.
The Hispanic culture has a rich and detailed background, with each country having unique forms of language, dress, music, and tradition. In Hispanic culture, the concept of familism is highly valued. Strong family relationships are important and tie into other types of culture surrounding tradition, food, and many celebrations. These celebrations include but are not limited to Fiestas Quinceañeras, Cinco de Mayo, and Dia de Los Muertos. These traditions have long family ties and are centered around celebrating together.
Whether celebrations stem from historical, cultural, or familial traditions, it is essential to recognize the festivities for many cultures present in one’s community and country.