The Rich Cultural Heritage of Hispanic Ancestry

Hispanic Heritage Month is a 30-day period that celebrates the cultures and achievements of American citizens of Hispanic origins. It began in 1968.

The terms Hispanic, Latino, and Latina/o all have different histories and meanings. Ultimately, your choice of these words should depend on your language and geographic preferences.

Greater Houston is home to Hispanic leaders, including Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. Moreover, incredible organizations work to preserve culture and history in neighborhoods throughout the region.


Researchers have found that the ancestry composition of Hispanic people is diverse. Based on the best DNA test for Hispanic ancestry, the DNA signature of the Native Americans who inhabited Latin America is detectable in many Hispanic populations, as are the admixture components from the Europeans (especially Portuguese/West Spain and the other reference groups) and the peoples of Africa brought to Latin America as enslaved people.

Genetic studies on mtDNA and the (male) Y chromosome suggest that some Hispanics have a small percentage of Sephardic ancestry. This is likely because most Hispanic men have haplogroups commonly seen in Jewish populations.

The Census Bureau proudly celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and the rich cultures of Mexico, Central and South America, and Spain. We aim to reconnect Americans with their Hispanic ancestry and their nation’s rich heritage.


Whether it’s Spanish or Latino, Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates the contributions of people from Spain, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. But many people may be confused about the distinction between Hispanics and Latinos—and even what language a person speaks.

Generally speaking, “Hispanic” refers to someone of Spanish descent or a person from the Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, like Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina. On the other hand, “Latino” is a more recent term for people of Latin American origin—especially in the United States. It has gained traction due to its political meaning of social empowerment through identity politics.

Aside from the semantics, learning about Hispanic heritage can be a fun way to introduce kids to Latino communities’ culture, traditions, and history. Listening to podcasts, reading books, and creating hands-on activities are some of the best ways to do this.


From food to music to traditions, Hispanic heritage has a rich cultural legacy that is celebrated during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Families enjoy exploring the vibrant colors of traditional clothes and the ups and downs of learning another language. Children get a boost in self-esteem from reading about the experiences of their own families and others who have immigrated to America.

As a group, Hispanics are incredibly diverse. When people self-describe as Hispanic, they may identify their country of origin and ancestry as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or any other Spanish culture and ancestry.

That diversity is reflected in DNA testing results, too. As autosomal DNA recombines with each generation, it can pick up DNA from ancestral groups that don’t appear in tests for specific populations, such as Sephardic/East Mediterranean or European. However, Y and mtDNA are more likely to be specific to a particular population.


Hispanic cooking is a crucial aspect of culture and tradition. Traditional dishes like tamales, picadillo, or pozole connect generations and educate about culture. It is a cultural preservation often lost when people migrate or immigrate.

These traditions help Hispanics celebrate life’s milestones, like birthdays, holidays, and funerals. Sometimes, it can ease the anxiety of homesickness and feeling disconnected from culture when people move away. Cooking these dishes can also foster a sense of belonging among families.

The importance of family in Hispanics may play a role in developing healthy eating behaviors. Familism, a core value in Hispanics, promote family cohesion and can impact healthful eating habits (Stein et al., 2015). One study found that the rituals of food procurement, preparation, and presentation changed in Hispanic women after they migrated to the United States.


Hispanic music is a diverse genre that includes many popular songs and rhythms. It can tell a story, be celebratory or reflect a country’s political and economic climate. Hispanic artists have influenced the music industry worldwide.

One of the most famous Hispanic artists is Frida Kahlo, whose bold paintings reflected her Mexican heritage. She was also an activist for the Latino civil rights movement.

Another Hispanic artist is singer Christina Aguilera, born in Staten Island, New York. She said that her Hispanic background drives her to succeed as an artist.

Hispanic artists have also influenced the world of dance. From flamenco to salsa and reggaeton, Latin dance is an incredibly dynamic and expressive art form that beautifully combines different cultures. It is an art form combining tradition, modernity, and spirituality, transforming you.


Hispanic Heritage Month is a beautiful time to learn about Hispanic communities’ cultures and traditions. There are many ways that families can connect with Hispanic culture and history, from exploring Latinx art to cooking authentic Mexican dishes or playing a game of Loteria (Mexican Bingo) together.

Hispanicism is the process of assimilation into a cultural group and language. Modern Hispanicization of a place might include Spanish-language media and businesses. Hispanicization of a person might involve:

  • Speaking Spanish.
  • Learning about Hispanic culture through food and music.
  • Participating in Hispanic festivals or holidays.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, DeviantArt is collaborating with a Venezuelan-Argentinean digital artist, and Twitch live streamer for an event centered around creating Hispanic Heritage artworks. Join her on September 17th to learn how her heritage and background influence her work! The event is free and open to all. Register here to participate.