As a Latina, born and raised in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, the beginning of National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month is very special to me. The Independence Day of Mexico is on the 16th of September, but my family and I spend all day on the 15th awaiting El Grito de México at midnight.
Food is a must! There is so much authentic Mexican food for us to choose from: sopes, pozole, enchiladas, tacos, birria, tamales, and lots more. Each of these meals require many steps to follow and patience, so the whole family chips in. This year we are making pozole, a hominy soup that comes in three colors: red, white, and green, but my favorite is red! My mom brings out the big, silver pot that’s been in the family for years and prepares the pork, while my sister makes the red and green salsas, my dad cleans the hominy, and I chop the cabbage, onions, limes, and radishes. Soon it all comes together. I add white onion and green cabbage to my red pozole to match the colors of the Mexican flag.
And of course while we cook and eat, we have to listen to music, and even dance a little. We listen to traditional Mexican music, artists like Vicente Fernández, Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Lola Beltrán singing iconic Mariachi songs and Luis Miguel’s México en la Piel album. We also decorate the house in red, white and green lights and that’s when I bring out my Miguel doll from the Disney Pixar film Coco.
As midnight approaches, we turn on the news to watch the president of Mexico begin El Grito as he stands on the presidential balcony. He begins by yelling out the names of the heroes of the Independence War and ends with “Viva México!” three times, to which Mexicans around the world respond with “Viva!” Then he rings the bell and waves the Mexican flag as the Mexican national anthem plays. The fireworks begin and my family and I toast with a shot of tequila.
Throughout the entire month there are different types of festivities that occur throughout Los Angeles, like the parades in East LA. I remember when I was little my family and I would try to attend many of the fun events occurring in Downtown that not only included Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, but also people from other Latin American countries. I embrace my culture everyday, but this is a month where many people from different places come together to appreciate and learn about the impact that Hispanics and Latinx people have in the United States, and especially in Los Angeles. Due to my family being COVID safe, we haven’t partaken in these festivities in the last couple of years, but we still watch videos of past celebrations on YouTube to feel connected.
What’s even better is that the celebrations are not stopping any time soon. September begins the whole array of wonderful traditions and holidays, which eventually ends in February. It’s an exciting time, full of food, family, and music, and I always look forward to it.