Latina/o Heritage Month
Its History and Purpose
The stories of Latina/o Americans are intricately woven into the historical, social, and cultural tapestry of America. President Lyndon Johnson recognized this by signing an official celebration for Americans of Latina/o heritage. This annual commemoration started as a week-long celebration in 1968 and turned into a month-long celebration in 1988. The month (which begins September 15th and ends October 15th to coincide with the national Independence Days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile) has become a time to recognize and celebrate the integral role Latina/o Americans have played in the weaving of our nation.
Although the official government observance has been around for just over fifty years, the captivating histories and wonderful heritage this month celebrates are centuries-old, originating with the ancestors of Latina/o Americans who came from the regions of Spain, Mexico, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latina/o population in America now represents close to 20% (nearly a fifth!) making people of Latina/o descent or origin the nation’s most sizeable ethnic and racial minority.
The ways to celebrate Latina/o Heritage Month are as diverse as the cultures this month is celebrating. Celebrations typically take place through festivals, parades, concerts and the like. Of course, with the unprecedented changes ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic, many of the events and festivities for Latina/o Heritage Month 2020 will be virtual. Here are a few suggestions for those interested in learning and celebrating the month:
- Read books written by Latina/o authors. You can find an extensive Latina/o Theology reading list here.
- This web portal is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress, National Park Service, National Endowment for the Humanities and more. They provide several resources for learning more about the month here.
- The Smithsonian offers phenomenal lectures, exhibits and other educational resources for National Heritage Months. You can find this year’s list of Hispanic Heritage Month events here.
- Google search “National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations near me.” There are often curated lists like this one for parents who live in the Chicagoland area.
- And, of course, there’s always our favorite way to celebrate: FOOD! Find local Latina/Latino-owned restaurants or try a new tantalizingly spicy recipe inspired by Latin cuisine at home.
Latina/o Americans have distinctively unique and beautiful cultures, languages, values and traditions that represent the diversity of our Creator. This month we commemorate the significant contributions Latina/o Americans have had to the culture, achievements, society and history of America as well as to the Evangelical Covenant Church.