Please welcome, Meghan J. Villatoro as our guest writer this week as she shares about Hispanic Heritage Month! Meghan is a Marriage Blogger and Podcaster at RestoreAmor.com. She pairs her own experiences and her knowledge as a Marriage Coach to help Christian women who are struggling in their marriages. She has been married to her husband, Adán, for 15 years. And together they have four kids and another on the way. Originally from Long Island, she’s a New Yorker at heart but has lived in her husband’s native country, El Salvador, for over ten years. They are a multicultural family and speak fluent “Spanglish” in their home.
Then don’t forget to Join the Legacy Link-up below with your own heritage post.
Have you Heard of Hispanic Heritage Month?
It’s a month-long celebration in the United States that runs mid-September through mid-October. September 15 was chosen, because it marks the Independence Day of 5 Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Celebrating In the United States
In the United States, this month is celebrated in a variety of ways. Sometimes Hispanic people who have done noteworthy things in their communities are given special recognition. Other times, students may do reports or research papers on influential Hispanic athletes, actors, or artists. Some families celebrate by eating their national dishes. In several Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, they have parties with traditional music and dancing.
Celebrating In Central America
Although I am from the United States, I have been married to my Salvadorian husband for fifteen years. We have spent thirteen of those years living in his native country, El Salvador. During my time here, I have learned that celebrating in El Salvador, and most of Central America, is a bit different than the celebrations that take place in the United States.
The biggest difference is that we celebrate only on September 15th, Independence Day. It is similar to the way the Fourth of July in the United States.
It is common for school-aged children to do special projects this time of year, the focus is usually more on the country gaining their independence, and what life was like many years ago. They learn more about traditions and the history of Central America, versus simply celebrating famous Hispanic people in culture.
Salvadorian people love to eat their traditional foods and for good reason, many of them are really delicious. The most popular food in El Salvador are pupusas. These thick tortillas can be made from ground corn or rice flour. And then stuffed with cheese, meat, or beans before they are cooked. They are lightly fried on a griddle and served with delicious sauces and a side of coleslaw called Curtido. Pupusas are eaten all year long, but it is very common for people to eat them on independence day, as a way of celebrating El Salvador’s traditions.
The Independence Day Parade
The Independence Day parade is the most important part of celebrating in El Salvador. It is a huge event that takes months of preparation and planning. In each of the larger towns, they close the streets, shut down several businesses, and take a break from work and school to celebrate their Independence Day.
This day is especially important for school children. Each school takes part in the parade, doing several different things to perform. Some bigger schools practice for months to compete against each other to see who can put on the best show for parade-goers.
Independance Day Participation
Younger students typically dress up in a variety of different costumes. Some note El Salvador’s Native American culture by dressing in Native clothing, while others dress as modern-day professionals, like doctors, nurses, or police officers. Prior to COVID, my children had been attending a Christian school, where all the younger kids dressed as Bible characters, to celebrate El Salvador’s religious roots.
Middle-aged kids generally learn to play instruments for the parade. These bands will play a mix of traditional songs, and current hits. Other students hold banners for their school or wave flags. Each school typically has a Salvadorian flag in front, along with the flags of the four other Central American countries also celebrating their independence off to the sides.
Older students may play in marching bands as well, while some older girls dance with batons. Several children also dress in traditional Central American clothing and learn to perform national dances to traditional music. It’s always fun to watch these dances and see the costumes that the students wear.
The Independence Day parade is taken very seriously in El Salvador. All students are required to participate in some way, and most schools even grade the students based on their performance and participation.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a Great Opportunity to Learn
No matter how one celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about another culture and its traditions. Over the last thirteen years, I have enjoyed seeing the way that El Salvador celebrates Independence Day, and how it compares and contrasts to my traditions back in the United States.
Watching my children participate in their country’s traditions has been a really wonderful experience for me as well. It has been fun to watch them go from preschoolers dressed in costumes to middle-schoolers marching in the band with their classmates.
My passport may say the United States, but over the years El Salvador has become my home. I am thankful that I have been able to take part in celebrating El Salvador’s Independence Day and special traditions for several years.
Thank you Meghan for this wonderful information about Hispanic Heritage. I love learning about other cultures. And now…
It’s Our Turn
Share your Family or Heritage Legacy on the link-up this month.
Thanks for sharing
We are always looking to guest writers to share about their heritage. Click here to learn more.
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.