September 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month here in the United States. Originally observed nationally as a week-long event by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was expanded to it’s 30-day span in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. Hispanic Heritage Month is now observed from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15 and covers various countries’ Independence Days within it’s time frame.
While “Hispanic” and “Latino” are used more interchangeably in today’s world, it is important to understand the differences between these two terms. Latino is used to refer to anyone who was born within a Latin American country, such as Brazil and Chile. Hispanic refers to anyone who, while born in the United States or another English-speaking country, has ancestry tracing back to a Spanish speaking country, such as Spain, Mexico or Puerto Rico. Therefore, Hispanic Heritage Month truly is a celebration of one’s ancestry,
Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month is given a nationally recognized theme. In 2020, this theme was “Hispanics: Be Proud of Your Past, Embrace the Future.” Due to the many less-than-optimistic events going on in today’s world, the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM) announced that the 2021 theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.”
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, there are many events being held here at Indiana State University that are open to those interested in celebrating. For those who would love test out their Spanish speaking skills, have a fun game night with friends, and earn some top-notch prizes, you will want to participate in Lotería night on Oct. 13.
If you’re not one for public events, there are still ways you can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in the comfort of your own home. You could search through recipes and make yourself an authentic Latin American meal, educate yourself on Mexican Independence Day, or simply make yourself a playlist of music by Hispanic artists such as Shakira, Pitbull, and Christina Aguilera. If none of these fit your lifestyle, perhaps you could simply support a Hispanic owned business.
As September moves into October, there are still plenty of things to do to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. No matter whether you’ll be personally celebrating, or just enjoying the month from afar, Hispanic Heritage Month is a very important part of many people’s lives here in the United States. If you have any questions or want any information regarding Hispanic Heritage Month you can reach out to Martha Reed in person at the Office of Multicultural Services and Programs, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.