A month to celebrate your roots

Illustration by Aleah Green

Latinx Heritage Month celebrates the cultures and histories of people who trace their lineage to Mexico, Central America, South America and Spain. NAU is hosting multiple events throughout the month that all students can participate in.

NAU hosted a Latinx poetry slam workshop in the University Union Fieldhouse Oct. 3. Students in attendance were shown multiple videos featuring Latinx artists in a presentation and discussed them and the messages the pieces posed. During discussions, students wrote reflections on worksheets they would later use to write their own poems. The workshop’s host, senior administrative specialist Rivkah Gamble from the Office of Inclusion, led the discussions.

"When I was doing the research for this particular event, I went through all of the writings that I have read ... all of the poetry that I have seen performed, and I pulled my favorites," Gamble said. "I also had some help with the PowerPoint from Dr. Martin Tease and Anika Martin from the Office of Inclusion."

Gamble said as an office, they attended and had hosted many events for the month, like a Lotería night, a Tomo Todo game night where they gambled with chocolate coins and many others across campus. There will be other events throughout the month of October as well, even though Latinx Heritage Month officially ends Oct. 15.

The United States Census Bureau reported former President Lyndon B. Johnson was authorized by Congress in 1968 to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week to begin Sept. 15 each year. Twenty years later it was expanded to an entire month, ending on Oct. 15. The reason it starts on Sept. 15 is that there are five countries whose anniversary of independence is on the same day: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate the anniversaries of their independence later in that week.

Although the heritage month is celebrated in Septemeber and October, there are plenty of other holidays Latinx communities celebrate throughout the year. Junior Nicolás Alvarez some of the cultural traditions from his home community in Ecuador.

"In Ecuador, we have a holy week before Easter where we make a dish called fanesca," Alvarez said. "It is a soup with 12 types of beans, symbolizing the 12 apostles. Some people also add bacalao, which is fish. We also have Carnival in February where there are parades in the city, and you get with your family to throw water or sometimes eggs and flour at each other."

Heritage month events on campus are not just limited to students. Faculty and staff can take part in the events as well. Sylvia Macias, an adviser for the Hermanas United for Change group, was raised in Flagstaff and participates in heritage month events.

"My family doesn't do a whole lot in terms of all of us together, but I try to pay attention to the university and see if the events are ones I would be interested in," Macias said. "I know there is a Latin film series so I'll generally look at what's airing and see if I'd like to go."

Many Latin countries also celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Celebrated at the end of each October, Day of the Dead is an occasion where families visit the graves of loved ones and family members. According to National Geographic graves are cleaned and ofrendas, or altars, are built and consist of items the deceased people enjoyed in life, such as foods, drinks and toys. National Geographic reported common traditional decorations are marigolds, calaveras — or sugar skulls — and pan de muerto, which is called bread of the dead.

Throughout Latinx Heritage Month, many festivities are held across many cultures. Some overlap and some are slightly different, but Latinx Heritage Month is "un tiempo para celebrar tus raíces," a time to celebrate your roots.