The idea for Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated throughout the latter half of September and the first half of October, began as a way to promote the history, culture, and contributions of Hispanic-Americans — specifically, those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Communities mark the achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans with festivals and educational activities.
When is Hispanic Heritage Month 2021?
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to appreciate and celebrate the colorful cultures, rich histories, and diversity of the American Latino community.
History of Hispanic Heritage Month
Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by appreciating the community’s history, heritage, and contributions of the ancestors of American citizens who came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and South- and Central America.
Hispanic Heritage Month originally started with one week of commemoration when it was first introduced by Congressman George E. Brown in June 1968. With the civil rights movement, the need to recognize the contributions of the Latin community gained traction in the 1960s. Awareness of the multicultural groups living in the United States was also gradually growing.
Two heavily Latinx and Hispanic populated areas, the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles, were represented by Brown. His aim was to recognize the integral roles of these communities in American history. Observation of Hispanic Heritage Week started in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was later extended to a 30-day celebration by President Ronald Reagan, starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law via approval of Public Law 100-402 on August 17, 1988.
September 15 is set as the starting date for the month as it is important for many reasons. It is the independence anniversary for Latin American countries El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. From here onwards, the independence days of Mexico and Chile fall on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Dia de la Raza or Columbus Day also falls within this month, on October 12.
Hispanic Americans have been integral to the prosperity of the U.S. Their contributions to the nation are immeasurable, and they embody the best of American values. The Hispanic-American community has left an indelible mark on the U.S. culture and economy.
Hispanic Heritage Month timeline
The Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez, joins General George Washington's fight against British soldiers and helps win independence.
Texas joins the Union as the 28th state — Mexico had controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence.
Over 300,000 Latinos enlist in the American military and fight in World War II.
The push to recognize the Latinx community gains momentum when the civil rights movement is at its peak.
California Congressman George E. Brown introduces Hispanic Heritage Week.
Hispanic Heritage Week is first observed under President Lyndon B. Johnson but it is Ronald Reagan who extends it to a month-long celebration.
The Hispanic population of the United States totals 60.6 million people, making it the largest ethnic minority.
The U.S. Department of State highlights biographies of outstanding Hispanic employees who support diplomatic efforts around the world.
Traditions of the Day
National Hispanic Heritage Month traditionally honors the culture and contributions of both Latino and Hispanic Americans. The history and accomplishments of these groups in the shaping of the country are celebrated.
The month is celebrated in a plethora of ways. As several other celebratory holidays fall during this month — such as the independence days of several Latin American countries — concerts, parades, food fairs, and more are organized throughout. Educational events like art exhibitions take place as well, highlighting important Latino heroes in history.
The U.S. government honors the immeasurable contributions of Hispanic Americans to our economy, culture, and society.
Hispanic Heritage Month FAQs
What is Hispanic Heritage Month and why is it celebrated?
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history and countless contributions that Latinos have made to the nation over the years.
What is the difference between Hispanic and Latino?
The simplest way to remember the difference between Hispanic and Latino is that Hispanic refers to Spanish-dense populations and Latino refers to Latin American countries.
Are Panamanians Hispanic or Latino?
Panamanians are of Hispanic origin and the 15th-largest population residing in the United States.
How to Observe Hispanic Heritage Month
Plan a fiesta
Plan a fiesta with tasty food, mariachi music, and sombreros for everyone!
Involve the kids in fine arts
Light up young minds by educating them about Hispanic arts. Frida Kahlo’s paintings are a good start!
Start learning Spanish
We all learned a little bit in school, so why not go all the way! Who knows where that might take you?
5 Hispanic Heritage Highlights
A special date
Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of the month to correspond with the independence of many countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.
Hispanic and Latino Americans amount to an estimated 17.8% of the total U.S. population, making up the largest ethnic minority.
And the winner is...
Oscar Hijuelos, author of "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," was the first Hispanic writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The Latinos in the U.S. who speak English proficiently is increasing.
Difference of opinion
Unlike the U.S., chicken tacos are not popular in Mexico. There, they prefer to fill their tacos with steak, chicharron, and chorizo.
Why Hispanic Heritage Month is Important
Strong impact on America
Hispanic influences are tightly woven into the fabric of American life — think music, food, art, cinema, politics, literature, and so much more.
Around one-fifth of the U.S. population is Hispanic
The state with the largest Hispanic and Latino population overall is California with over 14 million.
Our kids benefit from it
While Hispanic children learn about their roots this month, all kids can benefit from learning about Spanish history and culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month dates