September 28, 2021Hispanic Heritage Month
From September 15 to October 15, we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Americans, who come from a large variety of cultures and nations, number nearly 60 million people, representing over 18% of the U.S. population. We are proud to honor the incredible heritage of the second largest ethnic group in the country and acknowledge their contributions to daily American life, in ways seen and unseen. Here are some interesting facts that may surprise you:
- Spanish the second most common language in the United States. With 43,200,000 native speakers in the U.S., Spanish is one of its fastest-growing languages! In fact, there are more Spanish speakers in the U.S. than in Spain, with the U.S. having the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, following Mexico.
- Starting with the Revolutionary War, Hispanic Americans have always been a part of the U.S. military. Hispanic Americans have fought in literally every war the U.S. has been in since its founding. According to the Minority Veterans Report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, over 1.2 million U.S. veterans are of Hispanic descent. Currently, approximately 20% of active-duty enlisted men and 17% of active-duty enlisted women in the U.S. military are Hispanic.
- Hispanic traditions helped shape “cowboy life.” Movies, TV, books, and even music have long fascinated people with depictions of the American West, but did you know that much of the day-to-day life for those who ventured out west was adopted from Hispanic culture? Cowboy hats, rodeos, and ranches (from the Spanish word “rancheros”) are just some of the cultural contributions and were in practice long before the U.S. was established.
- Hispanic cuisine has had a huge influence on what we eat. Most Americans can’t fathom life having without tacos, burritos, and other Tex-Mex entrees within reach. While you may understandably drool over Mexican food, other foods that leave you licking your fingers—like empanadas, stuffed peppers, and paella—are from other Hispanic cultures, too. Did you know that the word “barbeque,” which describes one of America’s favorite backyard times and cooking techniques, comes from the Spanish word “barbacoa?”
- Some of our favorite music and dancing have Hispanic origins. Tango! Mambo! Flamenco! These are dances that will get any wallflower to shimmy on the dance floor in any nightclub in the U.S., and they all come from a variety of Hispanic music traditions. Salsa, which means “hot sauce,” is one of the most famous dances, and has influenced both rock and jazz, with the rhythms and instruments now infused in today’s pop music.
What are some ways you can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Do you have any interesting facts to add?