Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history, culture, and contributions of U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities. It is celebrated September 15– October 15.
Identity & Terminology
The term Hispanic or Latino (or the more recent Latinx
, a gender-inclusive sociolinguistic variation) refers to a person’s culture, regardless of race. While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, such as on the U.S. Census[i]
refers to native speakers of Spanish, or those who have Spanish-speaking ancestry. Latino/x
is more commonly used to refer more generally to anyone of Latin American origin or ancestry.
The Origins of the Commemoration
Hispanic Heritage Month originally began as a week-long celebration in 1968. This commemoration was extended to a full month in 1988. Unlike most U.S. National Commemorative Months, this celebration begins in the middle of the month, rather than at the beginning. It coincides with the national independence days of several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica on September 15, Mexico on September 16, Chile on September 18, and Belize on September 21.
How to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Inside & Outside the Classroom
Here are a few ideas on how to commemorate the occasion:
- Visit a farmers’ market and learn about the United Farm Workers union (formerly the National Farm Workers Association), founded by Cesar Chavez, a revolutionary Mexican-American who dedicated his life to nonviolent protest in support of humane treatment of workers and civil rights. His union fought against pesticide use, low wages, and cruel working conditions for farm workers.
- During the pandemic, be sure to follow CDC’s recommendations or you can take your class on a virtual farmers’ market trip.
- Create a Spanish-language center in your classroom. Fill it with age-appropriate and engaging activities.
- Watch the Hispanic Heritage Awards with your students. View clips at The Hispanic Heritage Foundation website and discuss the kinds of qualities that make someone a leader.
- Visual art is one of the few ways in which we can experience a culture. Hispanic and Latinx landscapes, portraits, social or political issues and cultural touchstones can all be found in the work of talented creatives. Devote time to studying artists such as Diego Rivera, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Frida Kahlo.
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[i] On the 2020 Census form, individuals are counted as Hispanic or Latino if they identify with one or more of the following nationalities/ethnic groups originating in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, Cuba, as well as a host of additional Spanish-speaking countries. For a more comprehensive list, click here.