Today is September 15, which marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration that begins from September 15 – October 15 to honor the Hispanic and Latino cultures that is rooted in all the Latin American countries. Let’s begin with a little history of how Hispanic Heritage Month came to be.
September 15 plays an important part in history because it is the beginning of the declaration of independence from Spain of the Central and South American nations. It began when Mexico declared its independence on September 16, 1810, followed by Chile who declared its independence on September 18, 1810. 5 Central American Nations declared their independence September 15, 1821, and those 5 nations are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Lastly, Belize declared its independence from Great Britain on September 21, 1981.
Hispanic Heritage Month began as a week-long celebration back in June of 1968 that was started by a California Congressman George E. Brown who represented East Los Angeles and the majority of the San Gabriel Valley. Both were heavily populated by Hispanic and Latinx community members and the drive to recognize the awareness of the multicultural identities in the U.S started during the civil rights movement.
Public Law 90-48 was passed by Congress on September 17, 1968, to declare September 15 and 16 the start of Hispanic Heritage week with proper ceremonies and activities and it was proclaimed the same day by President Lyndon B. Johnson. From 1968 to 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan all declared the annual celebrations and in 1987, U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California created a proposal in hopes of expanding Hispanic Heritage from a week to a month so the nation could have more time to observe and plan different activities to honor and celebrate the Hispanic culture. In 1988, Senator Paul Simon submitted a bill like the proposal by Esteban E. Torres that was passed by Congress and was signed into law by President Reagan on August 17, 1988.
On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare the 31-day celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month beginning September 15 to October 15 and has been proclaimed by every President since.
Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to celebrate history and our deep Hispanic and Latino roots. Tania was born and raised in Mexico and Gabriel comes from a Mexican American family. My mother was born and raised in Mexico, my older brother was born in Mexico, but raised here, my father, myself, and my younger brother were born here and raised with the Mexican culture.
What better way to celebrate our heritage than by planning fun activities for you and your family? Below are 5 different activities to try this year from the comfort of your home.
- Cook a Mexican meal.
Have Family Taco Tuesday Night with a full taco bar of delicious toppings such as sautéed sweet peppers and onions, diced tomatoes, salsa, cilantro, cheese, guac (it’s never extra) or any other favorites. Tacos al pastor with pineapple and cilantro is my absolute favorite and must try.
2. Watch a Mexican telenovela.
I watched so many telenovelas with my mom growing up, so it was hard to pick just one. If I had to pick one, it would be ‘Cuidado Con El Angel’. I ask Tania what her favorite novela was and its ‘La Hija del Mariachi’. Tania & Gabe used to watch it during the early years in their marriage, but of course Gabe would just watch for the action as he didn't really understand a word they were saying lol.
3. Play Loteria with the family.
If you don't have the cards, download the Loteria app and print them online. You can also try virtual Loteria. It is such a great way to stay connected with the family and keep the traditions going. My family and I are traditional and use beans lol.
4. Try an authentic Mexican pan dulce.
Some of our favorite local Mexican bakery in San Antonio are, Panifico, La Panaderia & Bedoys Bakery. Tania's favorite pan dulce is the traditional concha & the Pina empanada. Mine would have to be anything with dulce de leche, churro with filling, and palmier cookies (also known as elephant ears or "orejas").
5. Make a piñata with the kids.
This is the exact way that I use to make piñatas when I was little and I can’t wait to make it with my daughter this year.
-Crepe paper, tissue paper, or paint
-1.5 parts water to 1 part of flour
-TBSP of salt
-Newspaper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips depending on the project.
1. Pour flour into bowl and slowly add water.
2.Whisk until it is no longer chunky and add the salt.
3.Blow up the balloon to the sized you would like and place in a bowl to keep it steady while you work.
4.Dip a strip of newspaper into the flour mixture and pull it out while keeping it flat using either the edge of the bowl to take off the excess mixture off or you can use your fingers to slide it off.
5.Keep the strips flat and place on the balloon while rubbing over it gently to keep it flat. Overlap the strips in different ways as you do not want them to go all the same way. Repeat this step until you have about 3 layers.
6.The piñata will take up to 24-48 hours to dry. Once it is dry, you can paint the piñata or glue crepe paper strips by snipping the bottoms to give the fringe look.
If you are wanting to add prizes to break the piñata, you would first carefully pop the balloon, cut a flap on the top of the piñata to create a hole big enough to place the prizes in, but light enough to not add a lot of weight. Next, cut a hole far enough away from the opening to place the ribbon or string. Then, place more paper mache on top of the opening and add more crepe paper strips. Finally, have fun and swing away!
We are already so proud of our heritage, but having a month to celebrate it with the nation is an honor and I am excited to share the traditions with my 2 girls. Do you have any fun traditions or fun activities you like to do with your family each year? If so, please share!
"It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams." -Gabriel Garcia Marquez