Every year, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. What began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 31-day period.

The purpose of this month-long celebration is to recognize the cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The kick-off date of September 15 was chosen because that date is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

From Spain to Mexico to the Caribbean to Central and South America, Hispanic culture includes a broad and diverse group of people from many different regions around the world. Despite this diversity, these people have many things in common.

One of the common features of Hispanic cultures is large, close-knit families. Since Spanish is the native language of almost all Hispanic cultures, most Hispanic cultures use similar names for family members.

One of the important members of most Hispanic families is the abuela. In Spanish, grandmothers are called abuela or abuelita. Grandfathers are called abuelo or abuelito. Shortened forms, such as lito, lita, tito and tita are also common.

In most Hispanic families, grandparents are respected family members who see themselves as important figures in the lives of their grandchildren. Many Hispanic grandparents choose to live with or near their children, so that they can play an important role in passing along the Spanish language and Hispanic culture to their grandchildren.

Of course, grandparents are important in many cultures. The wisdom and perspective that comes with age gives most grandparents the patience, love and knowledge to play important roles in the lives of their grandchildren.

So who is your abuela? Do you have great memories of time you’ve spent with your grandparents? What have you learned from them?

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, pay tribute to your own heritage — whether you’re Hispanic or not — by telling those who have helped to make you the person you are just how much you appreciate them!

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    • We’re glad you learned new words today to help us celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, The Beach (Mrs. Guerin’s 2nd Grade Class)! You’ll have to check back to see if you’re right about tomorrow’s Wonder, but we think you might be getting warm! :-)

  1. The video was very funny with the captions, and we all thought that baby was just adorable!
    We all have great memories of our grandparents. Some things they taught us are how to be good siblings, taught us to swim, gave us a place to live when we needed it, and took us shopping. :)
    Thanks for another great wonder!! :)

    • Those sound like really WONDERful abuelas and abuelos, Kerrick Elementary School! Thank you for visiting today’s Wonder of the Day®!

  2. Hi Wonderopolis

    My family is Hispanic and Italian. My ancestors came from Puerto Rico. I have an abuelo, he is nice. He is very artistic and he made me a little treasure chest to put my money in.

    Maddy M.

  3. Awwwwwwwww! How adorable! Don’t you think this little baby is adorable? Thanks for the wonderful wonder, Wonderopolis. I can’t wait to find out tomorrow’s wonder! :)

    • Yes, Some Person, we think the baby in the video is super cute! Thanks so much for being a friend of Wonderopolis and for leaving us such a nice comment! :-)

  4. Gracias, un artículo muy lindo! lo disfrutamos mucho recordamos a las abuelas que viven en Colombia!

    Thanks, a very nice article! we enjoyed it very much, we remember our abuelas they live in Colombia!

  5. Thank you, Wonderopolis, for your informative article on Abuelas and the Hispanic culture! My grandson, JoJo, has Nonni and Pop-Pop on Mami’s side, and Abuela and Abuelo on Papi’s! We all embrace, enjoy and encourage JoJo’s multi-cultural/racial (Scottish, French, African/Native/Puerto Rican American) heritage. He has enriched and brightened our lives with love!

    • Thank you for sharing your family’s personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®, JoJo’s Nonni! It sounds like their is a lot of love surrounding you all! Please tell JoJo that his friends in Wonderopolis hope he has a WONDERful day (we hope you have one, too)! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who is your abuela?
  • Why does National Hispanic Heritage Month start on September 15?
  • What’s your favorite memory of your grandparents?

Wonder Gallery

hispanic grandma reading to grandson_shutterstock_57163024abuela-1abuela-2abuela-3Vimeo Video

Try It Out

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Hispanic culture today! Keep learning even more by checking out the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • If you want to spend some quality time with your abuela, visit PBS Kids Go! to play the fun Cooking with Abuela game. Maybe you and your abuela can sit side-by-side at the computer and then put what you learn into action by making one of the recipes together!
  • Do you think your abuela or abuelo is fantastic? Think back on all the time you’ve spent with your grandparents. What are some of your favorite memories? Take time to sit down with them and share your thoughts. What memories do they treasure? You might be surprised by the things that they remember that you do not. It might also be interesting to learn what memories they hold dear and why. Have fun enjoying some special time together.
  • If you can’t visit with your abuela or abuelo right now, that’s OK. You can still tell them how important they are to you. When you’ve spent some time reminiscing, memorialize your thoughts in a special way. Write a short essay — or a letter to your grandparents — that describes your favorite memories and why they are so important to you. Create a photo collage of pictures of the great times you’ve had with your grandparents. When you’re finished with your special project, feel free to share it with others. Let them know how special your grandparents are.

Still Wondering

Use ReadWriteThink’s Creating Family Timelines: Graphing Family Memories and Significant Events lesson to learn how to interview family members in order to create a graphic family timeline based on important and memorable family events.


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