WASHINGTON — It’s the end of the week, we’re officially halfway through September, but today is also the first day of a new month. Sept. 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, but why?
Why does Hispanic Heritage Month start in the middle of September?
- CNDH Mexico, The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico
- Pew Research
- The US Department of State
- The Hispanic Heritage Month official website, a project of the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the National Parks Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, The National Archives, and the United States Holocaust Museum
WHAT WE FOUND:
Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is a month-long celebration of more than 62 million Hispanic Americans—their vibrant cultures, their unique stories, their crucial role in America’s past, present, and future.
The US Census counts someone as “Hispanic or Latino” if they identify their heritage as Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or any other Spanish culture or origin—regardless of race. That means a lot of cultures with a lot of their own celebrations, and Hispanic Heritage Month times out to include several of those.
Sept. 15 itself is significant because it’s the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico commemorates their independence day Sept. 16, and Chile on Sept. 18.
”Dia de la Raza” also falls within this 30 day period: Oct. 12, when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas. Historically, that’s been a celebration of the fusion of European culture in Central and South America, but the day has come to be recognized as a time for acknowledging the largely destructive impact on native peoples.
After lobbying from Latin-American advocates, Hispanic Heritage Week was first celebrated in 1968 during the Lyndon Johnson Administration. Twenty years later, it was formally expanded to cover a full 30-day period.