America is known as the great melting pot. It’s a wonderful country where people of all ethnicities and backgrounds can live together in peace and strive for success and happiness.
My family is of Hispanic descent. The branches of my family tree reach back to Mexico, to the states of Sonora and Jalisco, to be exact. I am a third-generation American. As I see the Hispanic population growing and continuing to make a positive statement in our society, I’m becoming more aware of my heritage and making it of greater importance in my life and my family’s.
Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. The National Hispanic Heritage Month website says it is a month-long celebration of the history, culture, and contributions of Hispanic Americans. It began as a week-long celebration back in 1968, and was expanded to 30 days by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The dates chosen have importance because many Latin American countries celebrate their independence during that time, including Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras.
This year’s theme is “Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.” I’m proud to say my family is a true melting pot, with members from many different ethnicities. However, that can often result in a diluting of each culture when families assimilate and let old traditions fall by the wayside. It’s important for each family member to preserve their family’s memories and culture through their art, language, and food, and this month’s recognition of Hispanic heritage helps families do just that.
National Hispanic Heritage Month was first brought to my attention through television advertisements and Internet stories. In the past, I never really paid it much attention, but now that I have let the idea sink in, I am beginning to feel a sense of pride. I feel it’s a great opportunity to not only celebrate Hispanic culture but also give people like myself the opportunity to explore and learn more about our own heritage, as well as share it with others.
I have decided that I will use this month to share my Mexican heritage with my two children. My husband is not Hispanic, and ethnicity is not a subject that is often brought up in our house, but during this month I can emphasize our Hispanic culture by sharing with my family the foods of Mexico, using recipes from my mother and grandmother. Hand-rolling tamales with my children will be a wonderful and bonding experience. I’d love to take them for their first visit to Olvera Street in Los Angeles, a “Mexican-style plaza” selling Mexican handicrafts and authentic foods. It is known as the birthplace of Los Angeles, and consists of 27 historic buildings, including the original pueblo built in 1781. What an experience that will be for their small eyes, with the bright and exciting colors of Mexico all around, the lively Mariachi music, and the smells of authentic Mexican food filling the air!
While there may be large national celebrations going on around the country, I prefer to keep our celebrations small and close to the heart. National Hispanic Heritage Month may be to honor our country’s Hispanic role-models, but in my family, that’s me. And I hope to show my children how to be proud of their ethnicity and carry on its traditions.