Heritage Months and Holidays
Please read below for more details on commonly practiced cultural and ethnic heritage months.
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each September 15 - October 15 in the United States of America to recognize the contributions made by people of Hispanic descent and to celebrate Hispanic culture. Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 because it is the anniversary of 5 Latin American countries' Independence Day: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
German American Heritage Month: Beginning on October 6, 1987 as German American Day, the culture and achievement of Americans of German descent is now celebrated during a month-long period between. Established in 1995, German American Heritage Month spans these dates so as to encompass festivals like Oktoberfest and Steuben parades.
Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender History Month is celebrated in October. The month of October was chosen because National Coming Out Day (October 11) was already established and a widely known event. LGBT History Month is intended to encourage honesty and openness about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Italian Heritage Month is set in October to coincide with Columbus Day. Italian Heritage Month celebrates the many achievements and successes of not only Americans of Italian descent, but also Italians living in America. America was named after an Italian (Amerigo Vespucci). It is also important to note that language plays a very large part of this celebration as it is thought of as an intrinsic part of Italian culture.
Polish American Heritage Month is celebrated each year in October to commemorate the contributions to American society made by those of Polish descent.
Native American Heritage Month was initially celebrated in 1916 by the state of New York. It was not until 1990 that then President George H.W. Bush established it as a month long festival. Not only does Native American Indian Heritage Month showcase the rich culture of the native people of this land, but also honors those American Indians that have suffered injustices. Therefore, we celebrate all Native Americans during the month of November.
AIDS Awareness Month: In December, we honor those who have become infected by the AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) virus by helping Americans become more aware of it. Caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981, not just in the United States, but all over the world.
World AIDS Day: Celebrated each December 1, World AIDS day is dedicated to raising awareness about the AIDS epidemic around the globe. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people becoming one of the worst epidemics man has ever faced.
Dr. Martin Luther King Day: On the third Monday of January each year, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Dr. Martin Luther King Day is the only national holiday commemorating the actions of an African-American. Originally petitioned to honor King's dedication to trade unions, it would be established on November 2, 1983 by Ronald Reagan.
Black History Month: Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, is celebrated each February in the United States. Because of the timing of the birthdays of two very important individuals in the fight to end slavery, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, Black History Week was originally slated for the second week in February in 1926. In 1976 it was expanded to encompass the entire month of February to recognize the significant achievements made by the African-American community in all aspects of American society.
Women's History Month: Annually celebrated in March, Women's History Month acknowledges the many contributions women have made in America's rich past. From its beginnings as International Women's Day on March 8, 1911, it has been expanded twice by the United States Congress first as a weeklong celebration in 1981 and to its current month-long celebration in 1987.
Irish American History Month is celebrated every March. We honor the achievements made by Irish-Americans during this time. For many generations those of Irish heritage have contributed to our society. It is for this reason that we take pride in celebrating Irish culture.
Scottish American Heritage Month is celebrated in April. National Tartan Day, held each year on April 6 in the United States, celebrates the historical links between Scotland and North America and the contributions Scottish Americans have made to US history and society. Frequently, Scottish culture is celebrated through festivals known as Highland games. Various events include Whisky tastings, eating Haggis, Caber toss, Hammer throws, and traditional Scottish dances.
Asian & Pacific Islander Month: In May, we recognize the contributions of those of Asian and Pacific Islander decent. Asian Pacific American Heritage month began in 1978 as Asian American Heritage Week celebrated the first week of every May, chosen because the first immigrants from Japan arrived on May 7, 1843. It has since been expanded to encompass the entire month of May.
Cinco De Mayo: Widely celebrated in the United States, Cinco de Mayo ("Fifth of May") is a National holiday in Mexico. Commonly misconceived as Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates the victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French occupational forces in the Battle of Puebla on 05 May 1862.
Jewish American Heritage Month is celebrated in May. Seeking a place to practice their beliefs without fear of prosecution, Jewish settlers first came to America. We celebrate that trek and celebrate the faith and culture of the Jewish people. Through their faith and commitment, America has become a more soulful nation and it is with this in mind that we honor them.
Caribbean American Heritage Month is an opportunity to show our appreciation for the many ways Caribbean Americans have contributed to our country. Caribbean Americans have helped to shape our national fabric with their vibrant traditions and their unique history. We celebrate and recognize the Caribbean Americans whose determination and hard work have helped make our country a better place.
Black Music Month: Not only has the work of African American musicians inspired us as a people for generations, but it has also infused itself with the popular music of today. Bearing this in mind, we honor Black musicians during the month of June, celebrating those that paved the way for rap, hip-hop, R & B, and every other genre with smooth jazz and ethereal vocals.
Juneteenth Celebration: Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865. On that day Union soldiers rode through Texas announcing that Lincoln had given the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. Celebrated informally since 1865, Texas became the first state to celebrate it officially on June 3, 1979. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Independence Day: On July 4, 1776 the United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain. It is an iconic day to Americans celebrating their freedom thanks to the ancestors who fought for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Through generations it has morphed from an anti-British-rule celebration to a celebration of what makes us the USA.