Beginning September 15 and ending October 15, one of the nation's largest minority groups is celebrating its customs during Hispanic Heritage Month. Americans are gathering to honor and commemorate the culture of Hispanics. Events around the Washington area include "Mariachi Madness" at the National Museum of Natural History, "Chicano Vision" at the Arts and Industries Museum, and "Fiesta Musical" at the National Zoo.
Because the word Hispanic does not refer to one racial group, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes a variety of nationalities. "Hispanic" is used to describe families from Spanish-speaking countries such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, and South and Central America. During the month of Hispanic heritage, all Spanish-speaking countries are represented and their individual culture is celebrated.
Hispanic Heritage was not always observed for an entire month; until 1988, the celebration was only a week-long. The Congress approved a proclamation "designating the week including September 15 and September 16 as ‘National Heritage Week'" in1968. The event was extended to a month-long in 1988 by the100th Congress.
However, it isn't just for one month out of the year that people observe Hispanic customs. Everyday Americans enjoy Hispanic culture; from the language we speak, to the food we eat, America is highlighted with Spanish words and flavors.
According to the Washington Post, one out of every eight Americans is Hispanic. About 13 percent of the nation's total population, or 35.3 million people, are Hispanic. In the past two decades, the D.C. area's Hispanic population has risen 346 percent, to about 400,000 people.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to rejoice in the progress Hispanics have made and the future that awaits them. Embracing the culture of Hispanics by writing, listening, and reading is the best way to understand the diversity of the world around us.
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