Student Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, Appreciates Family Traditions


Sophomore Mia Lopez finds comfort in her family of 25 cousins.

Courtney Habermehl, Staff Writer

 A home defined by its parallel river sits comfortably in Mexico, protected by the outskirts of corn and humming cows. It is surrounded by lush foliage and accompanied by tadpoles swimming up a stream of rushing water. 

“It’s just so pretty. I love going to my grandma’s house more than anything,” sophomore Mia Lopez said. “When we go on vacation, I like to say that I want to go to my grandma’s house, not like Cancun or something. I love it when my family goes to new places, but I’d much rather be with my grandma.” 

Although her grandma has since moved back to Mexico, both of Lopez’s grandparents endured quite the journey to migrate to the United States. Lopez shared how her grandparents on her mother’s side were raised around each other and worked on the same farm before saving up enough money to move to America. Lopez also said how her father, only twelve years old at the time, when trying to help his family move to the U.S., had to beg his mother to leave Mexico after his stepdad got into trouble with dangerous people. 

“He showed me a map of where he used to live and there was this hill, and he had to run over it,” Lopez said, explaining her father’s difficult journey.  

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15), Lopez takes the opportunity to celebrate her family’s history and culture by engaging in personal celebratory events that have shaped her own heritage and traditions.  

One of the most memorable events takes place in the days leading up to Christmas. She and her family reunite to make fresh, homemade tamales ready to feed hungry mouths, come dinner time. As Lopez puts it, they form a “tamale circle” and alternate fussing with the dough and corn mixture until putting the tamales in the pot to cook. Her family then celebrates on Christmas Eve with a big party and lots of food.  

Cooking together around the holidays is just one of Lopez’s special traditions with her family. She also mentioned celebrating other holidays specific to her culture and Hispanic roots like Día Los Niños. 

“So, you know how you have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in Mexico, there’s kids’ day,” she said. 

El Día Del Niños is an annual celebration of children, families, and reading that takes place on April 30 throughout Mexico and other Latin countries. The day honors the well-being of children and recognizes their importance to society according to Puente, a group that fosters wellness and prosperity in various San Mateo County South Coast communities. It also serves as a recognition of the importance of literacy and language in child development, and often reminds adults of the importance of childhood.  

While the holiday dates back to 1925, the concept of intertwining the celebration with reading and language arts did not emerge until 1996. Now, the day serves to empower children and emphasize their importance to the world. It is often celebrated in schools throughout Mexico through engaging activities involving both reading and learning. Lopez and her brother usually spend the day together with their parents doing something lighthearted and exciting.  

“Oftentimes we just go to Fort Fun or something, and just have a day,” she said. 

Children are also celebrated in Mexico through powerful legends like the story of Los Niños Heroes which has been passed down to Lopez and are an essential part of her Hispanic Heritage. 

“There were some invaders, like people who tried to conquer things and colonize it, and some apparently were at war and some kids had the Mexico flag with them, and they committed suicide and that stopped the war,” she said. “That’s what my mom told me. I think that’s how it goes.”  

According to The Chapultepec Group, a Latina-owned agency that helps non-profit organizations expand, the heroes were six Mexican teenage military cadets that fought to their deaths in the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War. The last cadet standing, Juan Escutia is said to have wrapped himself in the Mexican flag before it was taken and leapt to his death from the Chapultepec Castle. Myth or not, the story rages on through the historic education of Mexican schools and promotes pride and patriotism among its citizens, especially on September 13, a day dedicated to the young heroes. 

Lopez goes on to share her feelings of comfort because her large family of 25 cousins are almost all living nearby in Fort Collins and are always available. Knowing the struggles her grandparents and parents endured to live in the U.S., Lopez recognizes her fortune of security.  

“You feel a lot more safe because like, if anything goes wrong, you have family you can literally walk to their house,” Lopez said.  

It is clear that both family and heritage play a significant role in Lopez’s life and have shaped her beliefs and appreciations.  

“I’m proud of how strong they were to get through a lot of the stuff they went through,” said Lopez. “It reminds me to be a little bit more grateful for what I have, and the fact that I don’t have to worry about having to move somewhere because I’m in danger or anything. I’m safe here.”