Today is the first day of a month-long celebration of anything and everything Hispanic, or Latino, as we like to call ourselves. Over 20 years ago, then President Ronald Reagan enacted into law Hispanic Heritage Month, a 30-day period which starts on September 15th and ends on October 15th to recognize the contributions of Hispanics in this country.
Today, September 15th, has always been a fiesta day in my calendar since my second home-El Salvador- celebrates the anniversary of its independence, El Día de la Independencia, as well as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Tomorrow, Mexico goes all out to commemorate their Fiesta Patrias, and Chile has its own independence fete on September 18th. Now that’s a lotta partying going on in the Latino world! Why shouldn’t the 44 million of Latinos in the U.S. not join in with our own celebration?
I like the idea of taking advantage of this celebration to teach our children about our heritage. The media outlets, schools, libraries and such go all out to this month to create festivities, award shows, special programming, etc about Latinos and our traditions and contributions to our country. This is the perfect moment to immerse your child and for him to see himself-his language, his food, his traditions, his way of life reflected. A good dose of positive self-identity in our ethnically diverse society is an excellent way to boost his self-esteem and pride in his roots. This, in turn, can reinforce his respect for learning and maintaining his heritage language.
Here are some activities centered around Hispanic Heritage that your family, and your bilingual efforts, can benefit from:
- Take advantage of the many cultural parties and Fiestas de Independencia going on in museums, malls, universities and local civic centers.
- Check your local libraries and bookstores schedule this month for special bilingual storytimes focused on Hispanic Heritage. I know even my local Barnes and Noble is hosting a Spanish storytime this month.
- Read together a book from Colorin Colorado´s Hispanic Heritage Booklist. Make it a cultural event at home.
- Watch together the amazing four-hour series PBS has put together about the history of Latin music in the U.S.–Latin Music, USA. It airs on October 12 and 19 on your local PBS station. I personally can´t wait to watch it because it explores all the levels in which the many genres of music we recognize as “American” have actually been influenced by Latino musicians and rhythms. Older kids will definitely identify with this documentary and will serve to instill more pride in the contributions made by Hispanics. You can also watch Latin Music, USA and other great stories about Latinos at the Nuestras Historias PBS website.
- Celebrate the culture of food by cooking recipes from different countries of Latin America. This site has 14 Latino recipes that might inspire you like Pabellón Criollo (Venezuela), Mangú (Dominican Republic), and Gallo Pinto (Costa Rica).
With so much to do, I’m excited it’s a whole month.
Here at SpanglishBaby, we’re kicking off the celebrations tomorrow with an interview with José Luis Orozco. Orozco is a much admired musician, author of children´s books and bilingual educator whom, in our book, is a true Latino to admire for his incessant work to preserve our culture and traditions through folk music and songs for our children.
We´re also giving away a pack of Orozco´s bilingual CDs and storybooks exclusively to one of our newsletter subscribers. You have all month, until October 15th, to subscribe to receive the very first edition of our combined SpanglishBaby and SpanglishBabyFinds newsletter full of discounts and bilingual goodies. Just enter your email here.
How will you take advantage of the Hispanic Heritage Month festivities?
We invite you to visit our new sister site, SpanglishBabyFinds, where we review the coolest products made with Latino and/or bilingual kids in mind. Today you can win the brand new Dance With Me Dora. ¡A bailar!