Hispanic Heritage Month honours the contributions of North Americans with roots in Spanish-speaking Countries. Given the often unsavoury treatment of Latinos in the U.S. historically, many welcome the chance to put the spotlight on Hispanic culture and celebrate the best of the U.S.-Latino community.
Sadly, well-meaning celebrations do turn into events that perpetuate stereotypes. Often the room is strung with chili peppers and sombreros. Mariachi music wafts through the room while guests munch on tacos. Is it wrong to staple chili peppers onto a bulletin board and don a sombrero? Truthfully, it can be frustrating for people navigating the waters of celebrating other cultures. It can feel like the rules are changing fast, and it’s better to throw up our hands and avoid the whole thing.
How Do We Celebrate Hispanic Culture Without Stereotypes?
Sometimes I see people complain about this on social media: “What’s the big deal? Why are we nitpicking over chili peppers and sombreros?!” I wish I had a straightforward answer. That I could make a nice infographic dividing offensive actions vs. culture-honouring ones. But I am not expert enough to do that. But I know that asking ourselves better questions is a good beginning.
So if you’re from a majority culture, here’s a quick test to know if you’re on the right track
- Are you more worried about defending your well-meaning choices, or listening to the minority culture?
- Do you actively look for ways to deepen your community’s view of minority culture?
Things change when people start asking questions like these:
- How can we fight against a one-dimensional view of Latino people?
- Could we use something small like decorations to change history?
- Can we showcase a diverse, vivid picture of Hispanic cultures?
Let’s Break the Stereotypes.
When we only present one side of a culture, we marginalise the people within it. Yes, it’s easier to de-humanize when we have a flat impression of a community. But small steps can change that perception. Our children and students are picking up on these nuances, too. So let’s give them the best start in honouring different cultures and places. Here are some ideas to help you bring a multi-dimensional environment to your next party, event, or bulletin board for Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrations!
1. Papel Picado
Papel Picado adds that traditional shine to every celebration and to the streets of Latin America. It is easy and inexpensive to decorate your surrounding with these. Simply follow this tutorial video to make your own:
2. Folk Art
Make some folk art with your kids, students, or friends, and then display it! Here are some great ideas for crafts: Mexican Folk Art Paintings from Kid World Citizen, Do a Nazca Lines Project from Peru from Spanish Mama, Create a Mola from Panama from Kid World Citizen, Make a Paper Arpillera from Mundo de Pepita, Hispanic Inspired Crafts for Kids from Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, and Create a Diego Rivera Mural from Kid World Citizen.
3. Day of the Dead Displays
Since Día de Muertos comes right on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, you could research and include some Day of the Dead traditions. An example is how some teachers have their students make an Altar or decorate Calaveras. Here are some ideas: Día de Muertos Bulletin Boards and Displays from Spanish Mama.
4. Country Flags
Sneak a bit of geography in with some colourful flags from Hispanic countries! Start with these free printable Spanish-speaking countries banners from Spanish Mama.
5. Modern Images
Folk art and traditional clothing truly represent Latin America, but there is more to us. People around the Globe fail to realize how much their worlds overlap with us. Let’s broaden their views with a collage of images of modern-day Latino culture in the U.S. and throughout the world!
6. Landmarks and Landscapes
The Hispanic World has beautiful landscapes and heritage sites for people to marvel upon. The Humberstone and Santa Laura in Pampas and Chile to the iconic Machu Picchu to the Teatro Amazons in Brazil. We just need to show these to the world around us more often.
7. Flores de Cempasuchitl
Bright flowers always bring a feeling of festivity to any event! And they are a great way to adapt the festive spirit of Hispanic Culture. Here’s a tutorial for the tissue paper flowers that are typical for Day of the Dead traditions: Click Here.
I hope these ideas will help you brainstorm some new ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month decorations! Remember, a well-placed chili pepper might be the right touch in the right context. However, If you spot a bulletin board covered with stereotypical images, gently offer some help to diversify the decorations. Little things can make a difference!
We are so excited for our seventh annual Hispanic Heritage Month series! Now through October 15, you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage!
Find even more ideas on our Latin America Pinterest board:
MommyMaestra: Puerto Rico Coloring Activity
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
Kids Spanish Book Club
Kid World Citizen
Kids Spanish Book Club
La Clase de Sra. Dufault
Recetas Latinas Veganas
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