Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage month is September 15 - October 14

stamp printed by United States, shows Hispanic Americans, circa 1984

The contributions of Hispanics in the United States are many, and in an effort to recognize and celebrate those who helped shaped this nation, President Lyndon B. Johnson instituted Nation Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968.

This provided activities and ceremonies to create awareness of the very great part Hispanic Americans have had to play in adding to the prosperity and importance of this country. And then in 1988, the weeklong observance was extended into National Hispanic Heritage Month.

It begins on September 15, which is also the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This is a time to learn about the people who have influenced this country in such a great way and learn about the culture that has influenced the culture of this country.

The term Hispanic was coined as a way to classify those people of Latin American and Spanish origin. But the term is often used incorrectly in the United States as a racial classification instead of a regional one.

Someone who is Hispanic can be of Indian, African, European, or Asian descent and because of the stereotypes and misconceptions, there are many Hispanics that are not recognized as such. Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), and Jean-Michel Basquiat, are all of Hispanic ancestry but are never regarded as Hispanic.

Spanish Words

There are words that we use on a regular basis that we never think to have a Spanish origin. Many words like mosquito or oregano are used in the English language in their original Spanish spelling and pronunciation, but there are some, like the following, that have been altered.

  • Savvy:saber, to know
  • Tornado:tornar, to turn, tronada, thunderstorm
  • Bronco: meaning wild or rough
  • Comrade:camarada, old Spanish for barracks company or roommate
  • Mustang:mestengo or mesteño, a stray animal

And there are some words that have a literal translation. Words like: aficionado, armada, barracuda, mosquito, tobacco, and vanilla .

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