Fun Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

by Stella Oakley

Food is a way to share culture.

mexican dinner image by Elke Dennis from Fotolia.com

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for people in the United States to learn about and celebrate the histories and contributions of Hispanic-Americans. What began in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson as a week-long celebration became a 30-day period under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 -- chosen because many Latin American countries celebrate their independence during that month -- and is marked by a variety of activities and celebrations.

Potluck

A potluck is a dinner where each guest brings his own dish to share. Because of Latin America's wide cultural and culinary diversity, a potluck is both filling and educational. Attendees can bring food from their own culture or their favorite foods from another. Dish ideas include Mexican tamales, Salvadoran pupusas, Dominican mangu, and Peruvian ceviche. In 2010, Orlando Science Schools in Florida organized a Hispanic Heritage Month potluck with student music and art presentations.

Music Festival or Concert

Like cuisine, Hispanic music spans across multiple styles, genres and subgenres. A music festival is a chance to celebrate Latin music and dancing and to introduce the sounds to a wider audience. Organizers can use live music or a DJ, depending on the funds, venue size, and projected audience. Music can either focus on one area of Latin America or can include a few songs from each area. Possible genres include bachata, merengue, salsa, duranguense and banda. Having instruments available gives kids and adults hand-on education about the Caribbean's conga drums, Mexico's mariachi trumpets, and Puerto Rico's maracas.

Film Festival

Films, whether fictional or documentary, give audiences a glimpse into other cultures. Film festival locations can be as large as a public theater or as small as a living room. Your festival's theme can be as broad as anything filmed in Latin America or it can focus on a specific event. The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by putting on an all-day film festival with movies centered on the Mexican Revolution. Films included the historic "Villa Villa," "The Wild Bunch" and "Viva Zapata," all produced between the 1930s and the 1960s.

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About the Author

Stella Oakley is a writer holding a Bachelor of Arts in history from Georgia State University, specializing in Latin America and Islam. A skilled researcher, she also works in a gynecology clinic and a fitness center.