Did you know that Hispanics are one of the most influential and active communities in the United States? Our powerful contribution to the economy and great cultural diversity, full of colorful traditions, is part of why we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th.
This guide provides insights into the history behind this celebration, and shares details on how you can join the celebration from the comfort of your home and community.
History of the celebration
The official celebration of hispanic heritage has been organized for more than 50 years. However, it’s possible to divide its story in two parts based on the duration of the celebration:
1968: Hispanic Heritage Week
This annual celebration began in 1968, when the former president Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Week, which lasted for twenty years in mid September. That week was chosen because it included the independence days of several Latin American countries:
- September 15: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica
- September 16: Mexico
- September 18: Chile
Starting with the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Week, the US government urged educational entities and civil organizations to celebrate each year by carrying out cultural activities that recognize the value of the Hispanic community.
1988: Hispanic Heritage Month is proclaimed!
Twenty years later, the festivities surrounding hispanics were extended to a month. In August of 1988, president Ronald Reagan reiterated the importance of recognizing the great contributions of the hispanic community to the American society, culture and economy, for which it was important to extend the days of celebration. For this, Congress approved Law 100-402, with which the days of celebration were extended: from September 15th to October 15th of each year. Since then, 33 years have passed in which the government, educational institutions, civil organizations and various companies have come together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
The impact of the hispanic community
The hispanic community is one of the most influential in American society in various aspects, but its rapid demographic growth and its great contributions to the culture stand out.
We continue to grow more!
According to the last population census, the hispanic community was the fastest growing minority in the United States during the last decade. In 2020, there were 62.1 million people of Hispanic origin living in the country, representing 18.7% of the total population. This means that the number of Hispanics increased by almost a quarter since 2010, when the last census was
In addition, we are a predominantly young community, since the average of Latinos is only 28 years old. This is why Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing ethnicity in the US, a very important reason to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!
Keep in mind: The Hispanic population is constantly growing, however, there are states where our community increases significantly and its influence is seen and felt almost everywhere. These states include: California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Are you in one of them?
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the pockets of many people in our community, it has not interfered with our desire to keep going and grow economically. Thanks to this attitude, hispanics have had a strong impact in the country's economy, and as a sample we can see all that we have achieved during the last decade:
- As of February of 2020, the number of Latino small business owners increased 34%, making us the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the US.
- Businesses started by Latinos Latinos contribute annually with profits of approximately $500 billion to the economy of the country due to their high sales.
- Latino businesses have created more than 3 million jobs, or 5.5% of all the jobs in the US.
- Latinos generate more than $2.3 trillion of the country’s total economic activity.
- In the last decade the purchasing power of Latinos increased 69%.
- In the last 6 years we accounted for 75% of the growth of the US workforce.
- If Hispanics formed an independent country, we would be the eighth largest economy in the world!
The strong impact of the Hispanic community is not limited to its rapid economic growth. Over the past several decades, Latinos have made immense contributions to the great cultural diversity of the United States. Some of the most important are:
Spanish is the language most used by Latinos in the US; however in recent years its use has expanded to other sectors of the population and it is currently the second most studied language in the country. This is why it is estimated that by the year 2060, the United States will be the second country with the most Spanish speakers on the planet, just behind Mexico.
The influence of Latin culture is also felt in the palates, making many of the traditional dishes of Latin American cuisine some of the favorites among Americans. The best example are tacos - which have become more popular than hamburgers - but we can also mention the growing popularity of delicious dishes such as arepas, pupusas, empanadas, guacamole or rice with chicken.
What’s your favorite traditional dish?
When we migrated to the United States we tried to keep alive the traditions that remind us and unite us to our roots. In recent years, many of these traditions have become more visible in the media, arousing the curiosity and respect of the general population. Some of these traditions are the celebration of the Day of the Dead every November 2nd, the festivities of XV years, the use of piñatas at birthday parties, the celebration of May 5th (cinco de mayo) and the organization of posadas every December.
What’s your favorite tradition?
Art is another area where the Hispanic community has had a strong impact in the United States, with more and more artists having an important presence in different artistic disciplines.
One of them is music, since our rhythm —such as salsa, reggaeton or Latin pop— have had a growing popularity in recent decades, something that could be demonstrated with the participation of Shakira and Jennifer López in the half time Super Bowl show, when they became the first Latin artists to star in said event.
Another discipline where Hispanics have had an impact during the last years has been in the cinema. More and more actors, actresses, and filmmakers have a strong presence in Hollywood, as demonstrated in the last decade by triumphs of Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro G. Iñarritu and Guillermo del Toro during one of the most important film award ceremonies in the industry.
How is Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated?
Since the introduction of Hispanic Heritage Month, the government has promoted educational and cultural activities in which the contributions of Hispanics to American society throughout history are remembered and celebrated.
Year after year, there have been many educational institutions, social organizations and large and small companies that have joined the celebration with activities such as Latin music concerts, book presentations by Hispanic authors, plays in Spanish, traditional dance presentations and exhibitions of Latin artists, among others.
Some examples of activities that will take place in 2021 are:
- Hola Mexico Film Festival. From September 17 to 25, the 13th edition of this Mexican film festival will take place in Los Angeles, California, where it is usually held every year. In keeping with Los Angeles County health protocols, attendees will be able to enjoy a total of 21 Mexican films during the first week of Hispanic Heritage Month.
- Exhibition of the 200 years of Mexican Independence. This exposition is organized by the Consulate of Mexico in New York and will be exhibited from September 15 to November 2nd in the lobby of the South Plaza of the Rockefeller Center.
- Hispanic Day Parade in New York. On October 10th, the 57th edition of this parade will be held on Fifth Avenue and will feature floats and costumes related to Hispanic Heritage Month.
Keep in mind: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this 2021 there will also be online events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Some of those include:
- Hispanic Heritage Awards.The 34th edition of this ceremony organized by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation will take place on October 8 and can be seen online on the PBS platform.
- Online forums. The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of California will organize conferences and virtual events on Hispanic Heritage Month.
- Virtual Exhibition for the Growth of Small Businesses. It is a free virtual event that will take place on September 22, whose objective is to provide talks by experts in finance and digital marketing for Hispanic small businesses.
How can you join the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations?
If you would like to join the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, we invite you to consider some ideas of what you can do individually and, if you desire, in your business or community.
On social media
Show the world your proud Hispanic heritage! You can do this on social media like:
- Changing your profile picture for one with your country’s flag
- Share articles and videos-- like the ones on SABEResPODER-- related to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
- Share photos of your favorite traditional dishes
- Share reflections of what your Hispanic heritage means to you. You can share it by using the hashtag #HispanicHeritageMonth and #SaberEsPoder.
In your community
Other forms of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is by organizing with those closest to you --family, friends, neighbors-- to carry out activities like:
- Organizing a themed party to which each guest brings a traditional dish and where they can dance and sing the music of their country of origin or other parts of Latin America.
- Place a flag of your country of origin on your driveway or somewhere visible in your car, and convince your Hipanic neighbors, friends and family to do the same.
- Organize a reading circle in which everyone can share their impressions of a book by a Hispanic author.
- Carry out a film series where everyone can see films by Hispanic directors and do a group reflection on them.
In your business
If you have a business, you can join the festivities of Hispanic Heritage Month by organizing various activities there like:
- Placing Latin American flags throughout the business and other decorations related to hispanic culture.
- Share content related to Hispanic Heritage Month on your social media pages.
- Organize a fundraising event to donate money raised to one or more civic organizations that help the hispanic community. You can organize this event virtually, in-person or both.
- Organize a party for your Hispanic employees in which you make them feel your respect and support, just remember that it is important to follow all the sanitary measures recommended by your local authorities.
So, what do you say? Are you joining the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration?
In the meantime, expect more information from SABEResPODER related to this celebration very soon. If you have any questions about this or any other topic, do not hesitate to reach out to us, remember that we are here to help you!