The History of Hispanic Heritage Month

The History of Hispanic Heritage Month


  • Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of the history, heritage, culture and contributions of the Hispanic population and their ancestry in the United States.

  • It lasts from September 15th – October 15th. 

  • 2021’s theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” The image on the left is one of two winning posters for this year’s celebration.

  • The commemorative week of Hispanic Heritage, enacted by President Lyndon Johnson, was later extended, creating a month long celebration by President Ronald Reagan.

  • The Hispanic people are currently the largest ethnic minority population in the United States.

The History of Hispanic Heritage Month

In June of 1968, at the height of the civil rights movement, California Congressman George E. Brown introduced a commemorative week to recognize the contributions of the Hispanic community at a time when there was a growing awareness of all of the United States’ multicultural identities. History.com

The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, as we know it today, was enacted into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988. It is celebrated every year from September 15th through October 15th.

“The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.”  National Hispanic Heritage Month

According to the US Census Bureau, any American that identifies as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race, is considered Hispanic.

Let’s Celebrate the Day

Since Hispanic Heritage Month is largely a celebration of history and culture, there are exhibits nationwide where anyone can go to experience and learn about the significant role that Hispanic Americans have played in American history, and in the culture of America today. 

Suggestions for celebrating also include going to parades, but why not expand the celebration, since it is a whole month, by learning to salsa or tango. Perhaps read a book by an award winning Hispanic author like Frida Kahlo or Sandra Cisneros. 

And don’t forget to celebrate by dining on several of the many delicious foods that make up the Hispanic cuisine! Of course you can do so in a restaurant eating great tapas, or by going to a street cart and snagging a pepita. But if you are like many of us at GNL, why not explore and prepare Hispanic foods in your own kitchen with family and friends? Here are some of our favorite Hispanic inspired foods.

  • Tingas as prepared by Lilo Vargas – Tinga is a dish made with shredded chicken in a delicious tomato sauce and Chile Chipotle in Adobo sauce, often served on a tostada with refried beans.

  • Beef Empanadas – Empanadas are most often savory meat pies shaped like a half moon. The fillings can be anything from beef to chorizo to vegetables. There are also sweet empanadas made with fruit fillings and dusted with sugar. Once filled, empanadas can be baked or fried.

  • Tacos – Of course! Check out these 30 taco recipes from Food and Wine Magazine. There is a recipe on this list for everyone and every diet.

  • Elotes – Up your grilled corn game with this recipe for Mexican grilled corn, a very popular street food in Mexico.

  • Flan – This is an egg-based, sweet custard often topped with caramel. Here is a simple flan recipe that is the perfect dessert for your celebratory meal.

This year during Hispanic Heritage Month, GNL recommends that you take advantage of the many learning opportunities that will be available to you in your community. Check out the museums and events and support Hispanic businesses in your town. 

Other sources: NationalToday.com, National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers

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