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¡Feliz mes de la Herencia Hispana! (Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!)

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At Quizlet, we look forward to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. The celebration that has been around since 1968, when it took the form of a week-long commemoration. Twenty years later, President Reagan expanded it to a month-long celebration lasting from September 15 to October 15.

During Hispanic Heritage month, we celebrate the vibrant tapestry of Hispanic culture that has enriched our country. From super pop stars (Shakira, anyone?) to a proliferation of Latino-owned small businesses, Latino influence is everywhere. Ever eager to learn more about Hispanic heritage, we reached out to our Latino colleagues at Quizlet and asked them to share something about their culture that they are proud of.

Here’s what they said:

Jessica Pinell - Rubén Dario

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I wanted to include a piece of history on Rubén Darío because I come from a family of writers. My grandmother, Vilma Abaunza Whitford, is a published author in Nicaragua who wrote a book of poems. She studied Dario, a Nicaraguense that our family also admired.

I grew up writing and knew at the young age of seven that reading and writing were my favorite subjects. I went on to study English as my college major. Darío traveled the world and made such an impact with his writing style. I’m grateful my grandmother and family had a powerful figure, straight from Nicaragua, to look up to.

Dario is regarded by many to be one of the greatest poets who wrote in Spanish. Dario was an influential Nicaraguan poet, journalist and diplomat.

Born Félix Rubén García Sarmiento in 1867, Dario made his mark on Spanish-language poetry by playing with rhythm, meter and imagery. He is credited with breathing new life into Spanish-language poetry while developing his own original style. In the process, he founded the Spanish-American literary movement known as Modernismo.

While living in Chile in 1888, Dario published his first major work: a collection of short stories, descriptive sketches and verse called Azul (meaning “blue”). Darío dispensed with the long and complicated Spanish sentence structure when writing the prose for Azul, replacing it with simpler language. Azul went on to be acclaimed as the start of a new period in Spanish-American literature.

At the end of the century, Rubén was a European correspondent for the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación. His interests grew outside the realm of art, and he began to focus on pressing international issues. These issues included looming North American imperialism, unity among Spanish-speaking countries, and the future of Spanish America. In 1905, he published Cantos de vida y esperanza (“Songs of Life and Hope”), which is roundly considered to be his culminating achievement. This work binds together his literary experimentation and those weighty concerns.

Jose Gallegos - Jose Clemente Orozco

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I shared with us another influential artist of Hispanic origin, Jose Clemente Orozco.

Orozco is known as one of the most important 20th-century muralists. He specialized in political murals and was one of “los tres grandes” (the three greats) of Mexican muralism. Orozco, who lived from 1883 to 1949, openly criticized the Mexican Revolution and the post-Revolution government. His work was often dark and politically motivated. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers.

Orozco’s style was layered, including elements of modernist abstraction, emotional expressiveness and Renaissance-style compositions and modeling. Wanting to move away from his earlier art in the European tradition, he later began to employ forms and iconography from pre-colonial Mexican art.

Chad Meirose - Puerto Rico

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Chad gave us a lesson on the fascinating history of Puerto Rico.

The U.S. commonwealth was originally occupied by the Taíno people and called Borinquén (which is where the term “Boricua,” referring to Puerto Rican people, originated).

Juan Ponce de León founded the first Spanish settlement on the island in 1508. Nearly 400 years later, in 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War along with the Philippines, Guam and Cuba.

Since then, Puerto Rico has experienced many political changes and became a commonwealth in 1948. Currently, while citizens of Puerto Rico hold American citizenship, they do not have the right to vote in presidential elections. Similarly, Puerto Rico has an elected non-voting representative in Congress and is not part of the electoral college.

The people of Puerto Rico have grappled with the question of the island’s future. Should it continue as a commonwealth, become a U.S. state, or function as an independent nation? In 1967, 1993 and 1998 the people voted for what they felt would be best for Puerto Rico. All three times they chose to remain a commonwealth. On November 3 of this year, Puerto Rico will vote on a statehood referendum in the general election.

Luis Calona - Día de la Independencia de México

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Our intern Luis chose Mexican Independence Day, which falls on September 16.

The 16th of September has a storied history in Mexico. On that day in 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, made Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores. This was the first vocal call for independence from Spain.

According to Mexican tradition and folklore, Father Hidalgo summoned the villagers of Dolores Hidalgo in Mexico by ringing a church bell in the wee hours of the morning. When they had assembled, he exhorted them to revolt against the Spanish authorities.

Every year on this day, the Mexican president honors Father Hidalgo by performing a reenactment from the National Palace in Mexico City.

But don’t confuse Mexican Independence Day with Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is an annual celebration held to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.

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Hispanic heritage and culture is so rich and interesting; there’s no shortage of things to explore. We hope you’ve learned something new.

You can broaden your knowledge and understanding of Hispanic heritage with study sets ranging from Mexican independence and central american geography to Spanish vocabulary and Spanish literature authors.

¡Feliz mes de la Herencia Hispana! Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!