What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month refers to the month-long celebration of the various contributions of Hispanic Americans to the US. It also involves celebrating Spanish culture and influence to American lives. It started out as week-long celebration in 1968 under former President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was called then as the “National Hispanic Heritage Week”. 20 years later, it was extended to a month-long event starting at the 15th of September. September 15 was a very important and memorable event for many Spanish-speaking countries, which is why this particular event starts on this date. On this specific date, countries like Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras celebrate the anniversary of their independence. Mexico and Chile meanwhile celebrate their independence on the period of the Hispanic Heritage Month also. Mexico’s Independence Day is every September 16, while Chile’s Independence Day is celebrated every September 18.
During this period, the vast contribution of Hispanic Americans is remembered and celebrated starting from the late 18th Century. It was then that Spanish-speaking people from various countries started to stay and settle in the US and established homes and towns with their distinct practices and culture. From their beginnings in the US West Coast with provinces in California and Texas, to their establishment of a fortress in St. Augustine Florida, and to their various explorations up to Canada, the Spanish had made an immeasurable contribution to what is the American way of life today.
To date there are more than 35 million Americans who consider themselves as “Hispanic” according to the US National Census in the year 2000. Hispanic is the term given for those Americans who come from any “Spanish” race or Spanish-speaking country. Some of them call themselves as just “Spanish” or “Latino”. Most of them come from nearby countries like Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.