National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the cultures, histories and contributions of Americans whose ancestors come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. This year, it starts on Tuesday, September 15, and ends on October 15.
Who started Hispanic Heritage Month?
It was started by President Lyndon B. Johnson as National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended it to a month-long celebration.
Why does it start on September 15?
That’s the date when five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—celebrate their independence from Spain in 1821.
Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence days on the 16th, 18th, and 21st of September.
How do people celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Like the U.S. Independence Day, it is is celebrated in Latin American countries and here in the United States with parades, parties, fireworks, and picnics.
Due to the coronavirus, events in your town or city may be cancelled. The good news is, you can still celebrate at home! Here are some ideas:
Read about different Hispanic countries and cultures, and learn about the contributions of Hispanic Americans who have influenced and enriched our nation and society.
Learn Spanish! If you don’t already speak Spanish, you can learn some common words and phrases.
Get festive by cooking some Latin American dishes.
Make a craft. Color or paint the Mexican flag. Make papel picado -“pecked paper” banners, or “flores de papel”- paper flowers.
The History of Mexican Independence Day:
Many people confuse Mexican Independence Day with Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army winning at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This victory happened more than 50 years after Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16. It marks the beginning of Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain.
In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo of Dolores, Mexico planned a revolt to free the people of Mexico from the rule of Spain. On September 15, 1810 at 11:00 pm, Father Hidalgo rang his church bell to call the people from the town and the fields. He made a speech, inspiring them to fight for their freedom and the war of Mexican Independence began.
Today, Mexican people mark this very special holiday, by repeating the ringing of the bells at 11:00 pm on the 15th. That is followed by a day of celebrations on the 16th. One of the things people do to celebrate Mexican Independence Day is shout the grito de independencia, the “cry of independence.” Ask your adult to Google “el grito mexicano” to hear it (it’s a loud howling scream that’s held as long as possible as an expression of joy and excitement.)
Viva Mexico! Happy Mexican Independence Day!