Celebrating the history, diverse cultures and contributions from the Hispanic and Latinx communities.
History of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month is from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 each year. It was first held in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and expanded to a month-long observance in 1988.
While other cultural observance months start on the first of the month, the celebration of this heritage month is tied to specific historical event dates: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all gained independence on Sept. 15; plus, Mexico’s Independence Day is Sept. 16 and Chile’s is Sept. 18.
Usage of the terms Hispanic and Latinx
UW Medicine recognizes that there is debate about whether “Hispanic” and “Latinx” represent all of the cultures that we are celebrating. As we consider future changes in our observance name, it is important to understand the history and context of the terms.
“Hispanic” refers to people who have ancestry in or are from a Spanish-speaking country. The term Hispanic was first used in the U.S. census in 1970 and is limited by its definition of Spanish-speaking people and its association with colonialism. The term also excludes Indigenous peoples, many with Afro-Caribbean ancestry, who have lived in Latin American countries since long before colonization.
“Latinx” refers to people who have ancestry in or are from a Latin American country and is a gender-neutral version of Latino/Latina. We’ve included it in our recognition as a means of being more inclusive. “Latine” is another gender-neutral term that is gaining popularity as it’s more pronounceable in the Spanish language than Latinx.
Hispanic and Latinx are ethnicities that include people of many different races. The U.S. Census and many other official forms ask people to check a box claiming Hispanic or Latino/a heritage that is separate from the boxes they must check for racial identity. This can be confusing for people whose identities don’t neatly fit into these boxes, such as someone who is descended from Indigenous Central or South America or someone who identifies with their family country of origin, such as Americans of Mexican descent, who may prefer the term Chicano/Chicana.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing and revising its racial and ethnic categorizations to better represent diversity of people throughout the country. Like all language, identity terms change over time and across generations. Beyond these terms, we should keep in mind that our observance recognizes very diverse communities. It includes people of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South and Central American, Indigenous and other Latin American or Spanish-speaking cultures or origins.
Digital assets and posters
Celebrate Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month and support your colleagues by adding an icon to your UW Medicine email signature.
Visit the UW Medicine brand site to download the signature. If you need instructions on how to add an email signature, visit one of the following Microsoft Office support pages.
Visit the UW Medicine brand site to download the background.
Download a PDF of the poster.
- Join the flag raising at UW Medicine hospitals on Friday, Sept. 15
- Get involved with the UW Latino Center for Health
- Get cooking with these recipes from UW Medicine hospital chefs:
- Learn about 10 Inspiring Latinas Who’ve Made History, Google Arts & Culture
- Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Day with the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 17
- Support local Latinx-owned businesses
- Read “Beyond Gender: Indigenous Perspectives, Muxe,” Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
- Watch “Why Do We Say Latino?” on PBS and learn about the history of Latino, Hispanic and Latinx terms
- Attend Seattle Center’s Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias, Sept. 16-17, as part of the Seattle Center Festál series; or attend the Seattle Latino Film Festival, Oct. 6-14
- Visit the Burke Museum Arts & Culture Collections: Mexico, Central and South America
- Read more from Pew Research Center about which terms people use to identify
- Watch videos from the New York Times and KING5 as Hispanic, Latino/a and Latinx people talk about their identities