“The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.” – Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
I was raised by brilliant and strong women who spoke perfect Spanish and at times broken English. I was also raised by a father who sang Spanish worship songs throughout the day and told us dímelo en español (tell me in spanish) when we would share about our days.
My husband was raised by a fierce woman from south Georgia and his father was from a beautiful city nestled in the Andes mountains. He was sent to La Paz, Bolivia for part of his kindergarten year and became fluent in Spanish before returning back to Atlanta.
Then, one day we met and fell in love and had two beautiful baby girls. It has not been lost on me (or us) that our girls are blends of Latino immigrants and deep American roots. We understand that we are our daughters’ first teachers when it comes to their vibrant cultures, but it can be a challenge. It’s sometimes difficult to embrace one culture without feeling as if we are neglecting one of the others.
In our home, we are of Mexican, Bolivian and American (caucasian) decent. In our home, we predominately speak English, but if you upset me just enough I will sling Spanish words right at you. In our home, we say good night with echoes of te amo and besos. In our home, we are raising Latina daughters and beginning today, we start our month long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
We feel so fortunate that we are able to have ties to the greater St. Louis Hispanic/Latino community through events and organizations that strive to share our vibrant cultures with others. When we first moved to St. Louis from South Carolina, I felt so alone, but since joining a few different groups and attending different events, I’ve come to find friends and kind strangers who share my culture or a passion and love for it.
My family is a member of the Bolivian Society of St. Louis. It is one of the older societies in St. Louis and it is still thriving. There are many other groups like the Puerto Rican Society and our Peruvian & Ecuadorian friends.
Then there are organizations like the Hispanic Festival that is dedicated to providing several events throughout the year to celebrate Hispanic/Latino culture in the area. One of their major events is in just a few days and will have dozens of booths and vendors to help spice up your weekend.
Fiesta Patrias STL just celebrated it’s annual event over on Cherokee Street, but you can aways save the date as it coincides with a weekend around September 16th (Mexican Independence Day). Although the event is over, you can still head to Cherokee Street for some pan dulce or some amazing tacos.
There are also professional organizations like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis that strive to promote the Hispanic community in the business sector.
The Missouri History Museum does a phenomenal job of including different cultures into their monthly programs. They have Cuentos en Espanol and a Dia de los Muetros and a Celebration of Hispanic Culture event in early November.
Just For One Month
You know, some days I wonder if I’m instilling important values in my girls. I want them to be kind. I want them be brave. I want them to be dedicated. I also want them to remember the generations who have come before them with the same wish of hoping that the next generation is at least just a little better off than the current. I also want them to embrace their culture every day of the year, but for that one special month that comes each year, I hope they stand a bit taller, dance a lot more and embrace what makes them beautiful as two little senoritas.
Do you have any Hispanic Heritage Month events you like to join in on every year? What about ways that your family holds on to your ancestor’s cultures (even if you’re not hispanic/latino)? Be sure to share them in the comments!