Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrated from September 15th through October 15th since 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month honors the historic and cultural achievements of Hispanic Americans and celebrates their contributions that have influenced the diversity of our society.  Foster children face significant hurdles connecting with their heritage and culture as they are often removed from not just their parents, but extended family and kin.  Hispanic children are undoubtedly impacted by this separation as they are significantly over-represented in our child welfare system. Here in Fairfax County individuals of Hispanic descent make up 16.5% of the population, yet 34 % of the children in Fairfax’s child welfare system are Hispanic. Fairfax CASA strongly believes that representation matters, and we are working diligently to create a volunteer pool that is reflective of the children we serve, who share the same backgrounds, cultures, religious beliefs and experiences.  All children deserve a strong sense of self that links to their cultural ties, and during Hispanic Heritage Month, it is crucial that children of Hispanic descent have their heritage recognized and celebrated. Here are some ways you can celebrate and honor Hispanic Heritage Month with your friends, family, and of course, the children in your life!

Attend a Celebration Event

Celebration events and festivals are a key component of Hispanic Heritage Month as they bring communities together and keep traditions alive. They are an great way to immerse yourself in Hispanic culture. One of the favorite local celebrations is Manassas’ Latino Fest being held on October 9th from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm at the Harris Pavilion in Old Town Manassas. The annual festival features live music, dance performances, and diverse food. If you are looking for a virtual celebration, explore the Smithsonian Latino Center’s online museum which includes exhibitions focused locally including Latino D.C. Stories and a virtual street tour of Latino murals in D.C.. Google Arts and Culture also has a diverse online collection celebrating Hispanic icons throughout music, dance, art, and entertainment.

Explore in the Cocina

Food is the heart and soul of a culture and has a way of teaching people about someone else’s way of life by bringing them together. Trying authentic recipes and experimenting in the kitchen is one of the best ways in which you can learn more about and honor Hispanic culture. D.C. food blogger Bren Herrera is the creator of TV show Culture Kitchen which caters to individuals learning about the culture and connects first-generation Hispanic immigrants to their cultural cuisines. Her focus is on Afro-Cuban flavors and creating fusion dishes that integrate Hispanic cuisine with other cultures. If you’re looking for a more structured cooking class, join ¡Comamos! being held on Facebook Live on September 18th at 6:30 pm and focuses on Mexican cuisine. Home Chef Angie will walk you through making your own Pico de Gallo, Tacos de Papas, and Mangonada.

Celebrate through Song and Dance

Developed over centuries of cultural exchange, Hispanic music and movement serve as a powerful means of personal expression and identity. Song and dance represent pride and passion within the culture, and it is also a great way to celebrate the many facets and sub-cultures in the Hispanic world. Spotify Represent uplifts the many voices, both upcoming and legendary, that make up Hispanic music culture and exemplifies the unique blend of Native, African, and Iberian influences. This amalgamation of Hispanic music covers a wide geographic diversity that includes representation from Central and South American and the Caribbean. NPR World Café also has a diverse playlist of 25 live performances from Chilean, Chicano, Afro-Cuban, and many other Hispanic artists. For those looking to lace up their dancing shoes, the Langston Hughes Library in New York is offering a free virtual series teaching dances from Mexican, Colombian, Cuban, Brazilian, and Dominican cultures throughout the month. Semilla Cultural in Fredericksburg is offering Puerto Rican Bomba classes, both in-person and virtually, throughout the month and beyond. The Kennedy Center has a free, online lecture series on learning the basics of merengue, salsa, bachata, and cha-cha.

How ever you choose to celebrate this month, we hope that it brings you a greater understanding and appreciation of Hispanic culture in our community!