Hispanic Heritage Month offers culture, connection to community

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A booth displays the Mexican, American and Salvadoran flag at the Vineyard Latino Festival. The festival was dedicated to the celebration of Hispanic heritage. (Ashly Larkin)

Hispanic Heritage Month underway and offers Hispanic individuals an opportunity to reconnect with their roots through cultural celebrations and will continue until Oct. 15.

Alana Miller, from southern California, said she started diving deeper into her Hispanic heritage and culture a few years ago and that remembering her ancestors has impacted her today. 

“When I get the chance to sit down and think about my ancestors, it makes me proud to be who I am,” Miller said. “My grandparents have talked to me a lot about their upbringing and how hard it was for them coming to the U.S., and they make me proud to say that I’m Hispanic because I know how much work they put in to get here.” 

Food, dancing and music are some of the ways to celebrate Hispanic culture during Hispanic Heritage Month. Participants in the various festivals make traditional food, study their family history and read stories about their culture. 

“We always talked about how important it was that we study our genealogy and read stories about other people — to share about how much our families have worked to be where we all are today,” Miller said. “I celebrate how hard my grandparents have worked because of how impressive it is and how difficult it must have been for them. Now because of them I have a more privileged life and an easier one.” 

Grace Martinez, who came to the U.S. in 2019 from Lima, Peru, shared another way that people appreciate their heritage this month. 

A booth sells authentic, homemade Ecuadorian food at the Vineyard Latino Festival. The festival was in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. (Ashly Larkin)

“Some people wait for that time to feel like they’re home for just today; others just enjoy spending time with people from the same country or try their delicious food,” Martinez said. “It’s like feeling a little bit of our country with us.” 

Cony Retamales, from Chile, attended the Vineyard Latino festival Sept. 17 to promote her family’s jewelry business, A Ella Jewelry.

“I feel like it’s a way to show what we’re about, like, show our talents, be able to show where we come from,” Retamales said. “So I think it’s a very important month to us just to be able to see what every culture has.” 

According to those celebrating, heritage and where one comes from deeply impacts one’s identity. For many, it is more than just a month of remembering for them. 

“My heritage is a part of who I am,” Martinez said. “It has built my thoughts, personality, opinions and many other things.” 

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