Hispanic Heritage Month Mes de la Herencia Hispana


Every year in the US, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15.  Hispanic Heritage Month was established in 1968 proclaimed by President Lyndon B Johnson.  At first, it was only one week but later was expanded to 30 days by President Ronald Regan in 1988.

 

September 15 was set as the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month because it coincides with the Independence of several Latin American, Hispanic, countries: Costa RicaEl SalvadorGuatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico  (early September 16), and Chile.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month honors and celebrates the contributions of the Hispanic community to the American culture. Hispanics have had a great and positive influence on our country.  

 

Let’s not forget that an important area of the US territory was once Mexico: Texas,  Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah, parts of Colorado & Wyoming.  Thus, Hispanic culture and traditions have been a part of the American culture for centuries.

 Through Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor the values such as the strong sense of family, community and hard work.  Their festive culture, imagery, art, icons, heroes, artists, social activists, athletes, and scientists. 

 

 

The Hispanic population of the United States in2015 was  56.6 million, making it the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17.6 percent of the nation’s total population.

 

 


 

El Español: The History of the Spanish Language

 


Spanish is one of the most important languages in the world. But what exactly is language?

 

Language emerged due to man’s need to communicate with others. In prehistoric times, men communicated through very simple oral, and sometimes written, language, and made drawings that highlighted their adventures and experiences. 

 

The Greeks developed the first alphabet, giving a specific sound to each sign. This alphabet was the precursor of the Roman alphabet, which is very similar to the one we use today. 

A language is the mirror of its culture. Through it, through the words of each language, we can observe the peculiarities or characteristics of the people that speak it.      

Language brings with it the flavors, colors, and smells of each country.  For example, when we hear the word, fiesta our mind brings forth images of Mexican joyfulness, and what can we say about a resounding Ole What do we imagine? ….. of course!….. the Spanish traditions.

 

And through language, we express not only our opinions and thoughts but our history, our cultural roots, our origins.

Today there are about 5000 different languages spoken in the world. The most frequently spoken languages are English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

 

The world is increasingly interdependent; this means that we constantly have to deal with people or companies from other countries. Individuals who have the skill to master another language will be more able to be successful in this new world. There are many work opportunities for people who know how to speak another language.

 

In particular, learning Spanish gives us the possibility to communicate with an entire continent! Around 400 million people speak Spanish as their native language. From Spain to Argentina!

Alebrijes: Oaxacan Wood Carvings

The artistic process and techniques used in the creation of these captivating  wooden Alebrijes.

Alebrijes are carved wooden figures created by Oaxacan artisans. They have become so popular that even the world’s most respected Spanish language authority, the La Real Academia de la Lengua Española, Spanish Royal Academy, has included the term “Alebrijes” in its official Spanish language dictionary.  The term “Alebrijes” originated from the name that Mr. Pedro Linares, of Mexico City, gave to his fantastic creations of paper maché; which are internationally recognized.

Most Oaxacan artisans simply call them figuras “wooden figures”, naming them after the animal which they carved, such as the deer, raccoon, leopard, etc., but when a fantastic figure is elaborated, the artisan is compelled to say he has created an “alebrije.”

NEW BOOK! Click on Picture For More Information

The creative process in making a wooden figure begins with the artisan imagining a form. On occasion, ideas arise spontaneously but sometimes artisans take days or even months imagining a very special figure. The wooden piece is then chosen. It will be used to create the figure that is in his mind.  Most artisans use “copalillo” wood to carve their figures. A few others use the “tzomplantle” and cedar.

The “copalillo” is a tree that grows in warm regions of Oaxaca.  There are several species and scientifically it is classified as belonging to the “Burseras” family.  Artisans classify “copalillo” trees as being either male or female. This differentiation is quickly made by simply looking at the tree and smelling it.

The ideal “copal or copalillo” is the female, which doesn’t have “knots” in its bark and smells somewhat like a lime (citric fruit). The female is used because it is softer and easier to carve. The male copal  is not used because of imperfections in its bark and its hardness; which makes it extremely difficult to carve.

Once the branch or the wooden piece has been selected, it is cut from the tree.

Some artisans prefer to carve the wood immediately to take advantage of the softness of the wood, while others leave it to dry in the sun for two or three days.

Once in the shop, its shell is removed. Initial cuts are made with the machete to form a rough idea of what the artisan has imagined. This gives it an initial proportion and size. Eventually during the process they start using finer and sharper blades that are more precise and make  finer cuts. Some artisans use other tools apart from knives and blades; for example, chisels, mallets, blades of different shapes and sizes, etc.

Once the figure has been carved, it is exposed to the sun. The amount of time the figure spends under the sun depends on the size of the figure: the small ones only a day, the big ones up to a month. Some artisans prefer drying the figures in the shade so that the drying is more natural and not so abrupt and exposed to the sun’s rays.

The Beautiful Face of Courage: The Adelitas Women of the Mexican Revolution


They looked for water and food for the soldiers, built barricades to protect them in the evening, healed the sick, carried the weapons. They went on foot to the sidewalk, following the battalions where husbands, fathers, brothers, and lovers participated. They are the soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution (1910), better known as “the adelitas”, and participated in all the sides that made up this armed movement: Maderistas, Zapatistas, Villistas, Carrancistas.

 
Many times they had the worst part of the war and some leaders never acknowledged their commitment to the cause. Most of them are anonymous faces and their drama barely appears in the history books. However, some of them were immortalized in the corridos, songs of the time that compiled the experiences of the Revolution.

 
In these corridos their leaders were portrayed, events were narrated and the female presence was reflected in the battalions, always faithful, brave, cheerful, self-sacrificing and even flirtatious, with a personality so typical that it inspired the rest of the group. They even had the courage to dance and find fun in hiding.

 
The photographs of the movement reveal their appearance: dressed almost always in their petticoats or long skirts, wearing scarves and hats. Other times they are practically disguised as men, only their eyes give them away. They rarely appear smiling. Their look had become stern and distrustful, however, they are seen preparing food, guarding their children in their rebozo, sharing the fate of the soldiers.

 

 The “adelitas” or “soldaderas” also occupied more strategic roles as spies, distributing propaganda or clandestine mail agents. Despite this, there were privileges to those who could not access, for example, horseback riding. Even when pregnant, they had to follow the troops walking. If their partner died, they could take their place in the battalion and this was how they could get to occupy military ranks. The greatest rank for a woman was that of a colonel, although almost all the troops had a woman who distinguished herself by her leadership and was the one who coordinated the rest of the women.

 
About how many women participated in the Revolution, there are no precise figures. You have to immerse yourself in the archives to know the names of these brave women and the tragedies they suffered: Petra Guerrera, Hermila Galindo, Juana Belén Gutiérrez, Coronela Caritina …

 
One of the saddest events occurred in 1916, at the Santa Rosalía station in Camargo, Chihuahua, when Villa snatched the train station from the Carrancistas. Ninety women Carrancistas were arrested and one of them shot Villa. Enraged, the “Centaur of the North” demanded to know who had fired at him. As none responded, they were all shot.

 
The “adelitas” or soldaderas were also part of the coveted booty in the clashes between the various revolutionary groups. They were wanted to rape them and thus disgrace the enemy. Thus, these brave and loyal women do not differ much from what other women have been in the wars of the world: consolation and relief, soldiers of a lesser category, cannon fodder. But they have also known to be the most beautiful face of courage.

 


 

The Legend of the Foundation of Tenochtitlan The Foundation of Mexico City





 

One of the most beautiful Mexican legends recounts that the people of Aztlan, north of what is today Mexico, had to leave their homes by orders of their gods in search of the promised land.
It is believed that the Aztecs, whose name means the people of Aztlan, began to emigrate in the 6th century.

The future Aztecs or Mexica, formed by the Nahua peoples, on orders of their god Huitzilopochtli, the Sun and War god, had to abandon the place where they lived and start a pilgrimage to find a place where an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus, devouring a snake would be.

Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs that when they found the eagle it would be the signal that they had reached land where they would build the most powerful empire in Mesoamerica, Middle America.

La Leyenda de Popocatépetl e Iztaccíhuatl



In English

La vista que engalana a la ciudad más grande del mundo: la Ciudad de México, está realzada por la majestuosidad de dos de los volcanes más altos del hemisferio, se trata del Popocatépetl y del Iztaccíhuatl.

La presencia milenaria de estos enormes volcanes ha sido de gran importancia en las diferentes sociedades que los han admirado y venerado, siendo fuente de inspiración de múltiples leyendas sobre su origen y creación. Entre ellas las más conocidas son dos que a continuación relataremos.

Hace ya miles de años, cuando el Imperio Azteca estaba en su esplendor y dominaba el Valle de México, como práctica común sometían a los pueblos vecinos, requiriéndoles un tributo obligatorio. Fue entonces cuando el cacique de los Tlaxcaltecas, acérrimos enemigos de los Aztecas, cansado de esta terrible opresión, decidió luchar por la libertad de su pueblo.

El cacique tenía una hija, llamada Iztaccíhuatl, era la princesa más bella y depositó su amor en el joven Popocatépetl, uno de los más apuestos guerreros de su pueblo.

Ambos se profesaban un inmenso amor, por lo que antes de partir a la guerra, Popocatépetl pidió al cacique la mano de la princesa Iztaccíhuatl. El padre accedió gustoso y prometió recibirlo con una gran celebración para darle la mano de su hija si regresaba victorioso de la batalla.

El valiente guerrero aceptó, se preparó para partir y guardó en su corazón la promesa de que la princesa lo esperaría para consumar su amor.

Al poco tiempo, un rival de amores de Popocatépetl, celoso del amor de ambos se profesaban, le dijo a la princesa Iztaccíhuatl que su amado había muerto durante el combate.

Abatida por la tristeza y sin saber que todo era mentira, la princesa murió.

Tiempo después, Popocatépetl regresó victorioso a su pueblo, con la esperanza de ver a su amada. A su llegada, recibió la terrible noticia sobre el fallecimiento de la princesa Iztaccíhuatl.

Entristecido con la noticia, vagó por las calles durante varios días y noches, hasta que decidió hacer algo para honrar su amor y que el recuerdo de la princesa permaneciera en la memoria de los pueblos.

Mandó construir una gran tumba ante el Sol, amontonando 10 cerros para formar una enorme montaña.

Tomó entre sus brazos el cuerpo de su princesa, lo llevó a la cima y lo recostó inerte sobre la gran montaña.  El joven guerrero le dio un beso póstumo, tomó una antorcha humeante y se arrodilló frente a su amada, para velar así, su sueño eterno.

Desde aquel entonces permanecen juntos, uno frente a otro. Con el tiempo la nieve cubrió sus cuerpos, convirtiéndose en dos enormes volcanes que seguirán así hasta el final del mundo.

La leyenda añade, que cuando el guerrero Popocatépetl se acuerda de su amada, su corazón que guarda el fuego de la pasión eterna, tiembla y su antorcha echa humo.   Por ello hasta hoy en día, el volcán Popocatépetl continúa arrojando fumarolas.