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Heritage of Hispanics

Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. This celebration begins on Sept. 15 because that day is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries-Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16, and Chile on Sept. 18.

Dia de los Muertos Celebration, 1999 Kathy Kota dancers waiting to go on stage to perform Mexican folklorico dances, August 1991

The Library's Local Legacies Web site is a good place to learn about Hispanic culture in America. Local Legacies are events, crafts, customs or activities that represent traditional community life. In 2000, members of Congress and communities across the country documented more than 1,300 Local Legacies. Participants sent photographs, reports, and sound and video recordings to the Library of Congress's American Folklife Center, where they will be preserved and shared for generations to come. Local Legacies was a project designed to involve Americans nationwide in the celebration of the Library's 200th birthday in 2000.

The complete list of Local Legacies projects can be viewed online. Projects documenting Hispanic culture include the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Fruitvale Festival, an annual one-day street festival held in the Fruitvale district of Oakland and sponsored by the Spanish Speaking Unity Council. The event began in 1996 and was used to launch the Fruitvale Main Street Program, which is part of the overall revitalization effort of the Fruitvale commercial area led by the Unity Council in this primarily low-income Latino community.

The Calle Ocho-Miami Festival celebrates the heritage and living traditions of the Cuban community in Florida. The nation's largest Hispanic celebration, it offers music, dance, visual arts and food; it began in 1978.

Old Spanish days in Santa Barbara, a community festival first held in 1924, celebrates the Rancho period (1830-1865) of Santa Barbara's history. Old Spanish Days Fiesta is Santa Barbara's largest civic celebration and is staged annually during the first week of August. It highlights the community's history, which dates back to a time when Santa Barbara was a remote rural area under the influence of Spanish, Mexican and local Chumash Indian cultures.


A. Evelyn and Janet Johnson, photographers. Dia de los Muertos Celebration, 1999. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Santa Barbara News Press. Kathy Kota dancers waiting to go on stage to perform Mexican folklorico dances, August 1991. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

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