Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the U.S. from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Here are some facts to know about the month, plus details on Sarasota’s beloved Hispanic Fall Festival.
El Principio: How It Got Started
President Lyndon Johnson introduced National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and then, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Congress passed a law to extend it into a month-long holiday that was first celebrated in 1989.
La Importancia: Why It Matters
Similar to Black History Month in February, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May and LGBTQ Pride Month in June, this annual observance is meant to recognize the triumphs and struggles of Hispanic Americans in U.S. history.
¿Por qué?: Why Two Months?
Mid-September holds a lot of important dates for Hispanic and Latin American countries. Sept. 15, 1821, is the date when five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua—earned independence from Spain. Mexico and Chile, meanwhile, became independent from Spain on Sept. 16 and 18, and Belize became independent from the United Kingdom on Sept. 21.
¡Celebremos!: Let’s Party
There’s no better way to experience Hispanic and Latino culture in Sarasota than by going to the Hispanic Fall Festival hosted by St. Jude Catholic Church at 3930 17th St., Sarasota. The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and will include food and drink booths, folk music performances, traditional dance routines and more live entertainment from multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
La Comida: Come Hungry
At the fall festival, you can also taste the cuisine of multiple Hispanic and Latin American countries in just a few footsteps. Fuel your exploration with a Cuban cafécito at the Viva La Cuba booth. The shot of caffeine will charge your human battery and have you running for tacos at the Olé Mexico booth. Then, if you have a little room left, head over to the Bellíssimo Brazil booth and choose from a variety of delicate Brazilian desserts.
“Food is a common language and brings us all together,” says Humberto Alvia, a St. Jude deacon and the chairman of the Hispanic Fall Festival.
La Causa: It’s for a Good Cause, Too
The fall festival supports the church’s outreach to the needy. “We celebrate being Hispanic by helping those who are in need,” says Alvia. “I am just el timon, which means ‘the rudder,’ but it is the Hispanic people that come out and join the rest of the community to help those who need financial help and those who are hungry.”
En Casa: Want to Celebrate at Home?
If you prefer to stay in, put on some fuzzy socks and get comfy with a good book by a Hispanic author. Novels like Dominicana by Angie Cruz and works of poetry like Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora give the reader insight into what it means to be a Hispanic American.