National Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15th, and the month-long celebration is a powerful time to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans to our culture and everyday lives — whether through books, movies, recipes, artwork, or political and academic achievements.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us the creative and powerful ways they’re celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. Which of these ideas will you try?
Make a meaningful dish to share with others
“National Hispanic Heritage Month is a particularly special time of year for me. It happens to land one day before Mexican Independence Day which takes place on September 16th, and although I can’t be in Mexico to celebrate ‘El Grito’ I still find my own ways to take part in the festivities. One of the ways I am most looking forward to doing so this year is by cooking the recipes from my new cookbook, MAMACITA, for the people I love. I have a recipe for Chiles en Nogada, Mexico’s traditional Independence Day dish, that I can’t wait to share with everyone.”
—Andrea Pons, cookbook author and food stylist, Seattle, WA
Take a Latin dance class
“I have come to love different forms of Latin dance and music over the past seven years or so. I am blessed to dance with some amazing people each week in different classes that I take from various countries in South and Central America. During this month especially, I reflect on how grateful I am for the joy that I find in Latin music and dance.”
—Amanda Wenner, human resources account HR lead, Washington, DC
Celebrate with traditional music and family
“As a Latina born in Los Angeles whose parents come from Mexico, the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month is special to me. We spend all day on the 15th awaiting El Grito de México at midnight. This year we’ll make pozole, a hominy soup, but in the past, we’ve made mole, birria, sopes and so much more. Pozole comes in three colors: red, white and green, but my favorite is red! Still, I add white onion and green cabbage to make up the Mexican flag. 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. 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.”
— Nicolle Rojas, writer and recent college graduate, Los Angeles, CA
Ask friends to teach you about their traditions
“I love Mexican food and there are fantastic Mexican restaurants everywhere in Los Angeles, but I’ve decided to learn more about culinary traditions, so I will be getting together with a close friend, Ana Gonzalez, for a masterclass in Mexican cuisine. A few months ago, we went to her daughter, Kadija’s quinceañera, which was fantastic — hours and hours of dancing and celebration — and the food was incredible. Ana regularly brings over food to share with us, and she’s going to teach me how to make her special enchiladas and chile relleno. Also, Ana makes the best flan I’ve ever tasted — a delicious custardy dessert with caramel — and she’s promised to share her secret recipe. While we’re heating up the kitchen, we’ll be sipping iced horchata, made with rice and cinnamon, and listening to Ana’s family’s favorite Mexican singers: Javier Solis and Vicente Fernández.”
— Elaine Lipworth, senior writer, Los Angeles, CA
Revisit a recipe that’s been passed down to you
“My wife is Argentinian and it’s important to us both that our kids understand that culture. We do this by speaking Spanish to each other, reading books, and of course with food. Every month as a family, we make homemade empanadas, a recipe from my mother-in-law that is magnifico.”
— Joshua Miller, certified executive coach, Austin, TX
Educate others about your culture
“I celebrate my Hispanic Heritage every day, but from Sept 15th to Oct 15th I find myself being a more vocal educator on the subject of who we are as a unique US Hispanic culture. 26% of children in the US are Latino, and yet their culture is only represented in 5% of children’s media. That’s why I created Canticos, designed to help parents pass on their language and culture to their kids. There’s a joy and optimism that permeates our culture that makes us laugh a lot. A generosity of spirit is encapsulated in the phrase ‘Donde comen dos, comen tres’ (where two eat, three eat.) We live for the nostalgic memories of other times in other places where roosters roamed the streets, families were tighter, and music always played. We are global citizens who carry two, sometimes 3 countries in our hearts. We are Americans. We are Latinos. We’re a rich part of this American Tapestry.”
—Susie Jaramillo, author, illustrator and creator of Emmy-nominated bilingual brand Canticos, Brooklyn, NY
Spend time researching your ancestors’ lives
“I’m spending time researching my grandfather’s life. He crossed the Pyrenees mountains on foot at 13 years old escaping Franco’s Spain, to find himself in foster care with his brother in France, until the swastika spun across Europe. Fleeing the Nazis, he made his way onto a boat with Jewish children escaping for their life. From there, he met with Cuba, which he had to escape too when Fidel Castro’s dictatorship hit. In researching his life, I am digging deep into the roots of my family tree, reaching back into Havana, Cuba; Spain and France. In fact, I’ll even be going to Spain this month to step on the ground my grandfather did, as I gather these memories. I am also lucky enough to be able to begin to share all of this with my own children, parents, and caretakers through my new picture book, What the Bread Says, which is the beginning of my ode to my Papan, my grandfather. The bread he taught me to bake and the stories he folded inside those recipes — our history — sings around my kitchen this month.”
—Vanessa Garcia, playwright, screenwriter and author, Miami, FL
Gather with loved ones to celebrate together
“In this same month of celebrating Hispanic Heritage, I get the opportunity to celebrate another very special day for me and my family: my father’s birthday, which isn’t just his birthday anymore, it is also our anniversary since migrating to the U.S. Every year, we come together as a family to celebrate my papi, but also to reflect on how far our family has come, and of course the celebration wouldn’t be complete without a meal! Sharing food with friends and family is so important to me because it keeps me connected to the people I love and the places we come from. I hope that this Hispanic Heritage Month inspires more people to gather around their tables to share pieces from our culture and our heritage.”
—Andrea Pons, cookbook author and food stylist, Seattle, WA
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