National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed September 15-October 15, and was established to recognize the invaluable contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States. This celebration of heritage and culture coincides with the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence during this period. Read on for ideas on for celebrating these important community contributors, whether they be in your home or a neighbor’s.
photo: quimuns via Pixabay
1. See a colorful new world unfold at the always-free National Museum of Mexican Art. The 10,000-piece permanent collection spans ancient Mexico to the present day, and is one of the largest and most respected in the country Beginning Sep. 20-Dec. 8, visitors can see a special Día de Muertos exhibition, a commemoration deeply rooted in ancient beliefs of life after death and a spiritual existence within the universe. (1852 W. 19th St., Pilsen)
2. If a kid in a candy shop is something to remember, what about a kid in a Mexican candy shop? Dulcelandia Candy is the largest distributor of Mexican candy in the Midwest and its three locations are well worth a visit. The colorful selection of sweets will make you wish that coconut and mango suckers were a food group. (Little Village, Brighton Park and Logan Square)
photo: XOCO, Gabriela H. via Yelp
3. Indulge in a chewy, fresh-from-the-fryer churro or flaky empanada from Rick Bayless’ XOCO, which offers a contemporary take on Mexico’s most-favorite street foods. After the first bite, your kids will be sold. (449 N. Clark St., River North)
4. Celebrate the musicality of the Hispanic culture with ¡SÚBELO! – A Celebration of Pan Latin Music and Culture, highlighting artists from Puerto Rico, Peru and Mexico as part of the World Music Festival held in venues across the city. (Sep. 14, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.; Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St., Millennium Park)
5. Take part in a one-hour joyous, heartfelt adventure that delves into the rich, tuneful traditions of Día de los Muertos through music and dance at the MAC’s Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure.
photo: Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, Tim M. via Yelp
6. No matter the temperature, hot chocolate is always a treat. Our favorite take on the steamy sensation comes from Wicker Park hot spot Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (1747 N. Damen Ave., 773-489-1747). The Mexican hot chocolate is a rich, flavorful melange of dark chocolate, milk, fresh cinnamon and cayenne — all topped with housemade marshmallows. If you’re in the western ‘burbs, Le Chocolat (127-129 S. Washington St., Naperville) also does an amazing Mexicocoa.
7. Hola, shoppers! Maxwell Street Market is a historic outdoor bazaar filled with vendors that sell jewelry and crafts inspired by Mexico and some of the best Mexican and Latin street food vendors in Chicago. (Every Sun., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; 800 S. Des Plaines St.)
8. Highlight a traditional Hispanic dessert at mealtime with a visit to one of Bombon’s four locations. The neighborhood bakery is known for its Tres Leches Cake, a vanilla sponge cake soaked in three types of milk with hints of rum, sweet vanilla, cream and cinnamon. They give it their own twist with variations like Amaretto and Peachy. (West Loop, Pilsen, Little Village and Chicago Lawn)
9. Create a Mexican Fiesta as a family with hands-on cooking fun at The Kids’ Table. Families will make Quesadillas, Broccoli Guacamole and Pina Colada Milkshakes. (Sep. 13, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m; 2237 W. North Ave., Wicker Park)
10. The fun in the kitchen doesn’t stop there. Taste Buds Kitchen is looking to spice things up with an adult-only, BYOB Mexican Feast. They’ll help you whip up your favorite recipes from street-style Carne Asada and Crispy Fish Tacos to handmade Guacamole, Lime Crema and Mexican Street Corn. No celebration is finito without made-from-scratch Corn Tortillas, you won’t believe how easy they are to make. (Oct. 4, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.; 2521 Waukegan Rd., Bannockburn)
photo: The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, Jane V. via Yelp
11. Visit The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, the only freestanding cultural institution in the nation devoted to Puerto Rican arts and historic exhibitions year-round. It’s located right here in our Humboldt Park community. (3015 W. Division St., Humboldt Park)
12. Sign baby up for classes at Rayito del Sol, Chicago’s first full Spanish Immersion program that had their grand opening this summer. Geared toward ages 6 weeks to six years, Rayito del Sol offers full and part-time childcare and its award-winning programming allows kids to consciously grasp both the Spanish and English languages. (2550 W. Addison St., Roscoe Village)
13. Work your way along Clark Street, from Devon to Touhy Avenues, tasting samples of signature dishes in the diverse Rogers Park neighborhood for Taste of Clark Street. The community celebration will include family-friendly activities and live music, including Mariachi Sirenas, Chicago’s first and very own all-women Mariachi. (Sep. 22, 2 p.m.-6 p.m.; 6950 N. Clark St., Rogers Park)
14. See Goodman Theatre’s midwest premiere of Daughter of the Cuban Revolutionary, a one-woman tour de force telling the tale centered on three towering figures in her life: her father, Raul, who co-wrote the manifesto for the Cuban revolution with Fidel Castro; her uncle, Eddy, who was the frontrunner for the Cuban presidency in 1951 before committing suicide; and her mother, Dalia, Miss Cuba runner-up in 1959. (Oct. 8-13; Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Loop)
15. Attend HispanicPro’s networking event on the rooftop at Godfrey Hotel and meet some of Chicago’s most prominent Latino organizations for an evening of mingling, cocktails, light bites and celebrating. (Sep. 13, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.; Godfrey Hotel, 127 W. Huron, River North)
16. CSO Latino Alliance is celebrating their 5th anniversary with a tribute to the great Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. The event will include a rare screening of the film Redes (1935), one of the early examples of Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema. Before the film, musicians from the Civic Orchestra of Chicago will perform Revueltas’ String Quartet No. 2. Stay after the film for a Q&A with Angel Gil-Ordóñez, who conducted the PostClassical Ensemble in the recording of the score you will hear. (Sep. 5, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Loop)
17. The free and open to the public YAS! Fest is Chicago’s largest celebration of young artists and youth arts organizations. The day will feature the creative work of musicians, actors, dancers, artists and visitors can explore youth arts programs from across the city. This year’s fest will include a performance by Latin Grammy Award-nominated ensemble Mariachi Herencia de México. (Sep. 21, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; 201 E. Randolph St., Millennium Park)
18. Sign the kids up for a sugar skull workshop. Participants will have their own sugar skull to design while learning more about sugar skulls, the history Día de los Muertos and what it means to many. The workshop offers age-appropriate knowledge and experience worth remembering and passing along to new generations.
— Maria Chambers