A few months ago a dear friend asked me if our 15-year-old son would be willing to be an escort in her daughter’s upcoming quinceanera.
(A quinceanera is a festive 15th birthday celebration, with Mexican roots, that marks a transition from girlhood to womanhood).
Much to my surprise, my usually resistant teenager agreed to the request. He thought it would be a unique – and likely once in a lifetime – opportunity to participate in this special tradition that isn’t a part of his culture. He also saw it as an opportunity to practice the Spanish language he is learning in his high school class. Finally, as a hip-hop dance student, he also looked at it as a chance to expand his dance repertoire.
The quinceanera participants have been meeting two days each week to learn the choreographed Latin-style dances and a waltz that the group will perform during the event. Talk about a fun and meaningful cultural immersion!
Hispanic Heritage Month
It’s fitting that this is happening during Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15 – October 15. Designated by congressional proclamation on August 17, 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month honors and celebrates the significant contributions of Hispanic Americans whose heritage comes from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Hispanic Families in OKC
According to the OKC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, nearly 20% of Oklahoma City metro residents identify as Hispanic. In terms of families, Hispanic children represent over half (53%) of students enrolled in the OKC Public School district.
It is likely that your kiddos have classmates and/or friends of Hispanic origin. Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to be intentional in learning about and teaching your kids about the richness of the Hispanic culture.
I’ve put together a list of local and national events, programs and activities that may inspire you and your family to celebrate.
Food is one of my favorite ways to learn about another culture. The opportunities to introduce your family to Hispanic food culture are plentiful in OKC! You don’t have to look too hard in most OKC neighborhoods to find places that serve culturally Hispanic food including brick-and-mortar national restaurant chains or smaller locally-owned restaurants.
And, can we talk about all of the amazing food trucks and stands?! The diversity of the Hispanic community can be found in food offerings that range from Mexican to Brazilian to Guatemalan and Peruvian. Shop Latino OKC and Visit OKC both have lengthy lists of Hispanic/Latin-owned restaurants to try out.
Another food-related option is to create a Hispanic Heritage meal together as a family. There are many local Latin grocery stores in the OKC metro where you can find grocery items to create your own authentic Latin-inspired dishes. Some of these markets include Supermercados Morelos, Feria Latina Supermarket and Rosa Blanca Mexican Store.
Salsa, Bachata, Flamenco, oh my! How about learning a Latin dance style this month? There are several local dance studios that offer private lessons. You can spice up date night by checking out this calendar of local Latin dance nights offered in the OKC metro.
If you’re too shy to dance in public, the Kennedy Center has a cool little YouTube video podcast series that includes five-minute how-tos of various Latin dance styles. You can even include the kids in the fun as you dance around the living room!
Festival Amistad 2021 – September 25 (11:00AM – 6:00PM). This free Hispanic Heritage festival in Warr Acres, OK includes a parade of floats that begins at the Walmart and goes towards the Putnam City High School parking lot. The parking lot is the location for live performances, arts/crafts/information booths and food vendors.
Fiestas De Las Américas (FDLA) Festival and Parade – October 2. If you want to get the widest variety of authentic Hispanic/Latino cultural experiences, do not miss this annual event that has been in existence since 2006. This signature festival takes place in OKC’s Capitol Hill community (Calle Dos Cinco; 319 SW 25th St Oklahoma City, 73109). It includes a parade, pageant, a Kid’s Zone, live entertainment, arts and crafts market, vendors and plenty of authentic Hispanic/Latin food and drink.
Other Family-Friendly Programs, Activities, and Educational Resources
Closing Weekend for ¡Viva Mexico! and Find Your North – October 16 (10:00 AM – 2:00 PM) The National Cowboy Hall of Fame & Museum will also host live performances by Grupo Folklorico Norahua and Mariachi Orgullo de América as a celebration of the closing of the long-running ¡Viva Mexico! And Find Your North exhibits. There will also be crafts for the kids to learn about and celebrate Hispanic/Latino culture.
Todos Somos Americanos. We Are All Americans.– September 21 (10:30AM – 11:30AM). National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will host music and dance performances from local cultural artist groups. The program will highlight the variety of cultures that make up North, South and Central America.
The Oklahoma Education Association has put together a fantastic Pinterest board that includes 97 Hispanic Heritage Month resources for kids and families. Pins range from links to picture books that feature Hispanic/Latino characters and authors to kid’s crafts and kid-friendly Latin cuisine recipe books.
The Metropolitan Library System has a full calendar of events and activity kits that highlight Hispanic Heritage Month. From arts and crafts to Hispanic Film discussions, you are sure to learn something about Hispanic/Latin culture.
How do/will you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as a family?