Every year when we celebrate Latinx Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), I am reminded of my roots.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s not like I forget where I’m from or don’t acknowledge my culture during the other months of the year. I just get so caught up with all the day-to-day activities (kids, work, life) that there comes a point where that aspect of my identity gets pushed to the back burner.
When September rolls around, my schedule is full of birthdays and back-to-school events, but I also get a helpful reminder. When I see posts about Latinx Heritage Month, it reminds me to take a step back and actively think about why I have been working so hard to begin with. That motivation comes from my heritage.
A Complicated Recipe
This month gives us an excuse to make that super-duper-complicated dish we all enjoy—but that is so complicated because of the unique ingredients needed and how time consuming it is. I’m talking about mole.
You have to get it sweet yet spicy at the same time. No flavor can overpower the others; you should be able to taste every single ingredient in every bite. Getting it right is a lengthy process.
Sparking Conversations, Observing Traditions
This heritage month gives us topics of conversation as we touch base—or even visit with our families across countries. Every year, my family and I go to Mexico to visit my grandparents. (When COVID hit, we were unable to go due to the travel restrictions, but this year we have our tickets ready!)
When September arrives, we ignite the start of rich traditions and celebrations that remain throughout the ending months of the year. In September we have Mexico’s Independence Day; in October/November we have Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead); and in December we have Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) Day and, of course, Navidad (Christmas).
Every year during the month of September, I am reminded to slow down and enjoy how far we have come. I don’t just speak of my family but as a culture. We have been able to progress with time but yet maintained such vibrant colors and practices. During these months of celebration, we shine the orange tones for marigolds (used for Day of Dead); we have pinks, yellows, all the bright shades of green.
This year’s theme for Latinx heritage month is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Strong Nation. It’s a perfect theme for those of us who strive to make our presence known in the workforce and in the community. Unidos, which translates to united, is the only way we can work to resolve issues that still linger in this world.
I am proud to be Latinx and show my students and coworkers that expressing this part of your identity is okay. It’s a thing we should all feel encouraged to do.
Personally, I like to express my identity through potlucks—bringing in food with recipes that have been in my family for generations. I also like to decorate my space with things that remind me of my country of origin.
But more than anything, I love to speak my native language: Spanish. It’s a factor that connects me to my ancestors while also creating new relationships.
So even though we can (and do!) celebrate Latinx heritage every day of the year, enjoy the reminders this month provides—and take a moment to slow down and disfrutar (enjoy).