Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Created by Reyna Mondragon (kNOwBOX dance Manager of Community Engagement)
October 6, 2021, Denton, Texas, USA
“I celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, by preserving traditions I grew up with and passing them along to my children, such as work ethic, cooking, and sticking together as a family. I also make sure to break trauma chains built in my culture so I don’t pass these down and they can end with me.” -Caleria Gabriela Guerra (Family Friend of Reyna Mondragon)
How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
For those who do not know, Hispanic Heritage Month is a period of time (September 15th – October 15th) that the United States created in celebration of the Hispanic Community within the United States. It was created in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson and continues to be celebrated today. It is a way to honor those whose ancestry comes from predominantly hispanic and latin communities. Personally, I celebrate my Mexican heritage through la COMIDA (food), la IDIOMA (language),la DANZA (dance), la MÚSICA, y HONRANDO (honoring) my family's history.
Photo of Reyna Mondragon
LA COMIDA | FOOD
Food is one of my passions. I love creating something out of nothing. I am always in constant conversation con mi madre (mom), padre (dad), tías (aunts), and tíos (uncles) in search of recipes that reminded them of their childhood and of home. Those conversations usually end up with the importance of always having frijoles (beans), arroz (rice), tortillas de maíz (corn tortillas), tortillas de harina (flour tortillas), and salsa at the table.
El IDIOMA | LANGUAGE
Since moving to America at the age of six, language was tough for me to acknowledge and see as something celebratory. I was always afraid to speak Spanish outside of my home because I was afraid to be judged by others who did not speak my language. However, as I grew up, I noticed that my language was special. My language is the link that connects me to my culture, la gente (people) who come from similar lands, and to the most important people on earth, mi familia. Ahora, mi lengua es un aspecto de orgullo y un símbolo de amor y perseverancia.
Photo: Reyna’s parents looking out at a blue sky.
LA DANZA | DANCE
Dance enables me to connect to the spaces I have not been a part of for a long time and re-encounter those stories. Baile Folklorico was not something I grew up with initially. However, I grew to learn, love, and appreciate the dance form that was so deeply connected to my parents' birthplace. My mom was born in Chihuahua, and my dad was born in Michoacan. Both of those regions have Baile Folklorico that tell various stories which tie specifically to the experiences of those that came before them. The power of dance is that it keeps those traditions and stories alive. One day I will visit those regions, sink my feet into the dirt, and breathe in the colors, textures, music, and movement so my body can reconnect to mi sangre.
Photo by Anuska Sampedro
If you are interested in learning how different companies that focus on Hispanic styles of dance and/or fusion of Hispanic dance forms check our podcast episode with Ana Maria Alvarez founder and Artistic Director of CONTRA-TIEMPO, Dance Cultura Podcast on A platform for dance and culture, and Jesus Velasco Mondragon on volviendo a las raíces de uno (returning to one’s roots).
Politics, Culture, and Dance w/ Ana Maria Alvarez of CONTRA-TIEMPO
A Platform for Dance Culture w/ Dance Cultura Podcast
Volviendo a las raíces de uno c/ (Returning to one’s roots w/)Jesús Velasco Mondragón
LA MÚSICA | MUSIC
Music has also kept me immensely connected to my roots. Mariachi was and is something I have always been immersed in. This genre of music celebrates the struggles, joy, and growth of el pueblo. From birthday parties, weddings, and deaths, Mariachi is never missing. It was a must have at my wedding. Even with blending two hispanic cultures, Mexicana y Peruano, Mariachi brought us all together – of course with the help of salsa, merengue, reggaeton, etc. Mariachi is la vida.
Photo: Reyna and her husband at their wedding.
“I celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by eating good food, playing the music I love, and remembering my loved ones” Jose (Pepe) Valdez (Reyna's Husband)
HONRANDO | HONORING
I can't fail to mention the most important people who have kept the traditions alive in my life – mi familia – most importantly the matriarch of the family, my late grandmother Loli. Loli always pushed the importance of being Mexican in a country that was not Mexico, or at least no longer Mexíco (Mexico lost fifty percent of its land to the US in 1848 after losing the war). She kept some of the Tarahumara Indigenous traditions alive by speaking their language and cooking their food. Unfortunately, her existence was short in my lifetime but she continues living through the many ways I celebrate my Mexican Heritage each day. Although she is no longer with us, the culture she instilled in us reminds us of her cada día.
This blog post is dedicated to my grandmother Loli. Te amo.
Photo: Reyna’s grandmother Loli.
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