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Why does Hispanic Heritage Month begin at such an unusual time?

The celebration begins mid-September rather than the beginning of the month

ATLANTA — ATLANTA—It is Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration that is unique in the way it begins and ends.

The calendar is splattered with holidays and months dedicated to honoring and remembering. February is Black History Month. October is the month dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. July is National Ice Cream Month.

Typically, these celebrations last from the first day of the month to the last.

Hispanic Heritage Month is an exception. It begins in the middle of September and ends in mid-October.


Initially, it was Hispanic Heritage Week, a time set aside to celebrate the Hispanic culture and the accomplishments of people like Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor and former Surgeon General Dr. Antonia Novello.

Link: Gwinnett County celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

In 1988, President Ronald Regan expanded the celebration to a month beginning September 15th. The date is significant because Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua celebrate their independence on September 15th, while Mexico’s Independence Day celebration follows on September 16th. The vast majority of Hispanic Americans are from Mexico and Central America. Hispanic Heritage Week always included the 15th and 16th. When it was expanded to a month, supporters decided the celebration should begin on September 15th.

Speaking in support of a month-long celebration, U.S. Representative Dale Kildee of Michigan called it an “opportunity to commemorate our nation’s diverse culture” that had been “vastly broadened and enriched by its Hispanic citizens.”


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