Every year, the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, recognizing the history, culture, and contributions of United States citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The celebration began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson and President Ronald Reagan extended it in 1988 to cover a thirty-day period that begins September 15 and ends October 15. It was issued as a law on August 17, 1988, when Public Law 100-402 was approved.
September 15 is an important date because Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua celebrate their independence. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Furthermore, Columbus Day, which is October 12, is celebrated within this thirty-day celebration.
- Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country thanks to their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have highlighted and molded our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their communities.
The term “Hispanic” or “Latino” refers to a North American (Mexican), Central American (including the Caribbean), South American or another culture of Spanish origin independent of its ethnicity. In the Census 2010 form, people of Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”
- According to the United States Census, as of July 2018, 59.9 million people or 18.3% of the country’s population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase compared to the results of the census in the year 2000, which registered the Hispanic population to be 35.3 million or 13% of the total population of the United States.
Even though both terms are used indistinctively, there is a difference between Hispanic and Latino. Hispanic is a word that originally denoted a relationship with Spain and with Spanish as its original language. Latino refers more to people or communities of Latin American origin. Although there is an important overlap between the groups. Brazilians are a good example of Latinos who are not Hispanic. Both terms were designated to refer to the ethnicity, not the race. Nonetheless, in the United States, they are randomly used to refer to the race.