5 memorable ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
Instead of spending your weekends eating burritos and watching re-runs of your favourite telenovela, we’ve come up with 5 memorable ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. The month of celebration runs from September 15 – October 15 and is a great chance to teach your kids about their own roots and identity, as well as introducing them to other cultures.
Whether you’re Hispanic or not, National Hispanic Heritage Month is packed with exciting opportunities for arts, crafts and new experiences. Created in 1968, this month celebrates the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua – but the festivities include many other South or Central American countries such as Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
If you’re looking for ideas to spice up (no pun intended) the season’s festivities and make it a fun event for all the family, then here are five ways to make this the most memorable National Heritage Month ever.
1. Bring history to life!
Hispanics have an enormous influence on American culture – the Hispanic population in the US is estimated at around 54.1 million. So, why not teach your kids about inspirational Hispanic figures? From world-famous figures such as the revolutionary Fidel Castro and the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez, to historical Hispanics in America such as Bernardo de Gálvez (the Spanish governor of Louisiana in 1777 who played a key role in helping George Washington in battles against British soldiers) and even contemporary figures such as Shakira (remember the song, “hips don’t lie”?)
Our tip: Focus on a different person from the past or present each week, and make a scrapbook storyboard with facts about their life.
2. Latin-themed kitchen
Flour tortillas are now one of the bestselling breads in the US – a favourite alongside burger and hotdog buns. However, there is more to Hispanic cuisine than tortillas, as much as we love them – more on this in a moment! If you’re having a Latin-themed month in the kitchen, then there are plenty of flavourful and healthy recipes you can make with the kids.
Why not start off with this Agua De Plátano recipe for a classic Mexican banana water drink. This tasty alternative to milkshake is sweet, smooth and incredibly delicious. Once you have quenched your thirst and built up some culinary confidence, you can try your hand at anything from Cuban sandwiches to Mexican tacos and South America’s traditional empanadas.
For a weekend treat, it’s hard to beat fresh churros (delicious fried doughnut sticks) rolled in sugar. Most of these recipes are easy to make, and it’s a memorable way to introduce your family to new and exotic ingredients.
Our tip: If you’re pushed for time, you could spend the afternoon making these flour tortillas from scratch. Yes, we do love tortillas!
3. Bring out the crafts
This is the perfect activity for rainy days. Latin America is known for its colourful art and vibrant crafts scene. If you are hosting your own National Hispanic Heritage Month party, then you’re going to need decorations. For an authentic Hispanic look, you could try making Papel Picado – traditional perforated paper – or even a beautiful garland of pom-pom fiesta flowers.
You could also host a supervised crafts session where your kids can invite their friends. Peruvian bead necklaces or Peruvian wave bracelets are a popular choice and gives them something to take away with them at the end of the day. All you need is some coloured strong, wooden beads and coloured marker pens. If your kids are musical, you can also have fun with these Mexican maracas, straw panpipes – or a really quick and easy pair of clicking Castanets.
Our tip: Arts and crafts are also a way to teach them about history. Most people have heard of a sombrero, so why not make this Argentinian gaucho sombrero out of cardboard?
4. Head out and about
If you live in the US, you don’t have to travel far to find Hispanic influences. From The Palace of Governors in Santa Fe to the Hispanic Society of Americas in NYC and the Forts of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, America is full of Hispanic heritage sites for you to visit.
If you decide to venture further afield and celebrate for a weekend in good company, then you could also check out these ten popular festivals in Latin America. Many of these are spread throughout the year, so you might need to plan ahead. But what better way to learn about Latin culture than visiting festivals such as the world-famous Día de los Muertos (a celebration that honours the dead) or La Mama Negra in Ecuador, which is held in September and features a fusion of Christian, African and Indian elements.
Our tip: If you’re on a budget, then you could book a family night at a Latin American restaurant, take some salsa dancing lessons, or even spend the afternoon teaching the kids some basic Spanish.
5. Book the trip of a lifetime
Want to go all-out? If you decide to take the trip of a lifetime then you really can take your pick of the incredible wonders that Central and South America has to offer. Whether you want to relax on the white beaches of Brazil, hike to the peaks of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and ancient Peruvian sites like Machu Picchu, or explore lesser-visited parts of Colombia – there is so much to do and see. For the ultimate selfie moment, you might want to stand with a backdrop of Angel Falls in Venezuela, the tallest waterfall in the world at 3,212 feet!
Our tip: If you want the authentic experience without the jetlag, here are ten places in the US where Latino culture flourishes. With influences all over the country, there is sure to be a city close to home!