Understanding Hispanic origins, Angelenos celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month


Brenda Mehdian, staff writer

         Every year from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, countries all over the world celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. With Los Angeles having the largest Hispanic population in the state, about 4.8 million in 2012 according to U.S. Census Bureau, many events and festivals are held to celebrate throughout the month.

         In 1968 President Lydon Johnson created the month long celebration as Hispanic Heritage Week. However, in 1988 Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration into a 30-day period.

         Hispanic culture has played a prevalent role in the dynamics of Los Angeles since 1769 when the first Mexican and Spanish settlers arrived. On Sept. 4, 1781, the first permanent colonial settlement, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles di Porciúncula, was established.

        Hispanic culture began influencing American life In 1805, when the first American trading ships arrived at San Pedro Bay. In 1848 Mexico formally ceded California to the United States, making all Los Angeles residents citizens of the U.S.

       The Hispanic population has influenced not only Los Angeles, but also America as a whole, in language, food and music. The population has also been growing recently. According to U.S. Census Bureau, there were 37.6 million U.S. residents who spoke Spanish in 2012, which was a 117 percent increase from that of 1990.

         The Spanish language has also had an influence on the English language. Many words in the English vocabulary find their roots in Spanish. For example, the words “cafeteria”, “chocolate”, “armada”, “tortilla”, “salsa”, “poncho”, “plaza” and “patio” all have the same meaning in both languages.

        “The similarities between the Spanish and English language are now a reflection of our global community. So many traditions, sights, places, foods and expression seem to be forever joining many cultures,” Spanish Teacher Susan Schneider said.

        Hispanic food has also played a key role in the Los Angeles food scene. Chipotle, Taco Bell, Poquito Mas, El Coyote and the various taco trucks found on local streets are popular and fairly priced Hispanic inspired restaurants. In addition to the cheaper options, there are also more expensive choices for restaurants such as Frida Mexican Cuisine, Loteria Grill and Blue Plate Taco.

        Not only are people going out to get their fix of Hispanic inspired foods, but they are also learning how to cook foods that originate from the Hispanic culture in order to enjoy their meals from the comfort of their own homes.

        “At least once a week my family has taco night or some sort of Mexican/Spanish food for dinner. Hispanic food is always something that my mom makes because it is something that everyone in the family loves,” senior Celine Hakimianpour said.

        Hispanic culture has also had an influence on the music Americans listen to every day. Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Mark Anthony, Shakira, Christina Aguilera and many more are just a few of the influential musicians who come from a Hispanic background.

        With a little more than a week left to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, anyone interested can still have a chance to celebrate  this influential culture in the many events held throughout Los Angeles. Go to nbclosangeles.com for a full list of upcoming events.