The Hispanic culture runs deep in the United States. In fact, it has been so instrumental in developing certain aspects of our country, the Hispanic culture is finally being recognized with its own month. September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.
What does it mean to be Hispanic?
Technically Hispanic refers to anyone hailing from countries such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American. Many of these countries were under Spanish or Portuguese influence hundreds of years ago which makes for similar traditions and cultures. Of course, that would be like saying that the United States, Australia and the UK all share a culture, so we simply have to realize that Hispanic is a very broad term. In fact, many Hispanics descend from native inhabitants rather than European ancestors.
It is also important to realize that Hispanic has nothing to do with skin color. Some Hispanics have very light skin and others have the same range of coloring as African-Americans. Hispanic has nothing to do with what you look like or skin and hair color. It has everything to do with where you or your ancestors came from.
Despite my love for food, Hispanics have had much more to do in the United States than add a great cuisine. Here are just a few things we can attribute to the Hispanic culture:
Since itís my personal favorite, I decided to start with food. Of course Hispanic foods include many of my personal favorites such as Mexican and Cuban. These foods just have the kind of flavor and spices that make my mouth water and I havenít come across one that doesnít have at least one dish I enjoy. Fajitas, plantains, black beans, tacos, cilantro, yummmmÖ.
Music and Dance
Some of the most inspiring forms of music hail from south of the border. The most obvious form that springs to mind is salsa. The salsa rhythms and beats have inspired countless people to take up the dance or seek out the music. The tango is another popular dance that originated with the Hispanics.
There is also a great deal of Latin flavor in hip-hop and other mainstream kinds of music including rap and country. The salsa, the fandango and tango are among the most exciting and fascinating kinds of dance to perform or watch. Our music would never be as rich as it is now without the Hispanic influence.
There are plenty of words that come from Spanish and Portuguese and they are not just located in states near the border or your local restaurants. Ever heard of mosquitoes? Arizona or Colorado? How about chocolate?
There is a lot in our culture that is a direct influence of Hispanics. Chocolate is an important one in my life. Ranching and the cattle industry can also thank Hispanic countries. In fact, the first cowboys (and some argue most of them) were Hispanic. Even the kind of government we have in states like California and Texas are derived from Hispanic forms of government.
People of Hispanic origins were in what we now call the United States long before the Europeans (and other ancestries) arrived. They have given, perhaps, more than you ever realized to our great country (and many others as well.)