Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept 15 – Oct 15

Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to U.S. society and culture. The observance was born in 1968, when Congress authorized the president to issue an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Two decades later, lawmakers expanded it to a monthlong celebration, stretching from September 15 to October 15.

The timing is key. Hispanic Heritage Month — like its shorter precursor — always starts on September 15, a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The designated period is also a nod to those from Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in many ways this year.

  • Read a Proclamation from President Biden here
  • The U.S. Department of State recognizes the contributions of its staff by highlighting their achievements. Read more here
  • Here’s a link to scholarships available to Hispanic students
  • Here are some facts from the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Here’s a listing of events from the Library of Congress
  • More ways to celebrate throughout the country here

How will you celebrate? Let us know in the comments.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by starting your Spanish lessons today! Click Here to get more information.

The story of Ñ and why it took so long to be able to use it in a URL

The grapheme Ñ is a mainstay of the Spanish language. It’s formed by a tilde (also called a virgulilla – little comma) over an upper or lower case N. It’s the 15th letter of the Spanish alphabet, after N, and has its own name, eñe. More than 15,700 words in the Spanish language contain it. Another example of a grapheme like this is the German W, which came from a double V or the German umlaut.

Have you noticed that the symbol ~ is an abstract n? Ñ formally originated in the eighteenth century with its first official recognition by the Royal Spanish Academy as a contraction of NN. Año in old Spanish was spelled anno (Latin annus) and the use of the tilde was developed as a shorthand version and was finally adopted and added to the Spanish alphabet. One theory of its origin is that in the Middle Ages monks devised its usage as a way to save parchment and time. One of the first usages is found in a document dated 1175.

Italian and French use gn for the same sound.

The use of Ñ has gradually become adopted in the U.S. Have you ever ordered a piña colada, had extra jalapeños on your nachos and talked about El Niño when discussing the weather?

So why hasn’t Ñ been used in URLs until last year? There’s no eñe in English and much of the tech developments for the internet started in the U.S. In 2021, a law passed in Spain set the standard that enabled the use of ñ in a URL.

You don’t have to know all 15,700 words in Spanish that use Ñ, but we can help you learn a lot of them with our personalized individual or group lessons. Contact us for more information.

The History of the Siesta, plus a Summer Recipe

The hot weather recently made us think of the history and origins of the siesta and how it evolved.

The word siesta in Spanish means nap, but it comes from the Latin hora sexta – the sixth hour (from dawn, traditionally).

The siesta as we know it originated in Spain, but the custom was practiced by the Romans and numerous other countries where the midday heat made it too hot to work. After the Spanish Civil War, many people had to work two jobs to survive, so the hours between 2:00 and 4:00pm became a time to eat and rest before going the their second job. This time period is still characteristic of Spain, although the standard 20-30 minute custom of taking a nap is diminishing.

But the tradition lives on! In the U.S. and other countries the idea of the power nap has taken hold. The power nap, about 20 minutes long, can restore alertness and reverse the impact of a poor night’s sleep. A university study found better memory recall after a short period of sleep. Studies have shown that limiting your siesta to under 45 minutes is the optimal period for a nap, otherwise you may drift into deep sleep which is when you wake up groggy for a while.

Since the long lunch period is still a tradition in Spain and it’s been so hot, here’s a recipe for Gazpacho, the Andalusian cold vegetable soup, perfect for a summer’s day.

If you’re trying to avoid the heat (or the cold, rain or snow), a perfect way to spend time indoors is learning Spanish. Contact Luminoso Language Services to learn more.

Cheech Marin’s Chicano Art Museum Opens

We all know Cheech Marin as an actor and one half of the stoner comedy team of Cheech and Chong, but for years he’s also been an avid collector of Chicano art. He’s been collecting art for 40 years and parts of his collection have been touring museums and breaking attendance records during that time.

The collection is now housed in a new museum in Riverside, California. The museum is officially called the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, but let’s face it, “The Cheech” is much more appealing. It occupies 61,420 square feet in what was formerly Riverside’s main library. Cheech’s collection now numbers 700 pieces of Chicano art. He’s gifted 500 pieces to the museum where there are about 100 pieces currently on display, along with other exhibits.
Cheech’s interest in art started in the 1980’s and he credits his ex-wife, a painter for opening his eyes to contemporary art. He sees the art in his collection as mixture of Mexican art, world art and pop culture.
“It was also art history that I understood, because all these artists were either art school and/or university-trained,” Marin says. “So they weren’t naive backyard artists that did it on weekends — these are really serious artists that were influenced by world art.”  He compared seeing the art to hearing the Beatles for the first time – the Beatles filtered American music through their lens and the artists filtered pop culture through a Chicano lens.
The term Chicano came into use in the 1960’s as a political movement for people of Mexican descent to express political empowerment, ethnic solidarity, and pride.
Finding out about Cheech’s other side is rewarding and show’s a different side of his personality and interests. Find a way to express yourself in a second language – contact Luminoso Language Services to learn Spanish at any level.

Do You Know the Difference Between Spanish and Mexican Cuisine?

They may share a common language, but the cuisines of Spain and Mexico are vastly different. Though Spain conquered much of the Americas, the influence of the native cuisines of Latin America is strong throughout the continent. 
The cuisine of Mexico is a combination of these two cultures. It has elements of Spanish cooking, but the staples are local foods: corn, beans and chili peppers. There’s also more of an emphasis on meats like beef, chicken or pork.
And what about the peppers?? Some of the hottest peppers in the world are used in Mexican cuisine. They vary in heat from Habaneros (100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units) to milder types such as poblanos (1,000 to 1500 Scoville heat units.) Corn is another staple, dried and used in soups and other dishes but primarily in tortillas empanadas and tamales.
Sauces are also very important in Mexican cuisine and add many complex flavors to the food. Their sauces rather than their other ingredients define many dishes.
The Spanish influence on Mesoamerican food starts with the new ingredients they brought from Europe: sugar, wheat, rice, onions, garlic, limes, oil, dairy products, pork, beef and many others which were not native to the Americas.
But it works both ways. When Spain invaded the Americas, they discovered ingredients such as tomatoes, potatoes, maize, bell peppers, spicy peppers, paprika, vanilla and cocoa, or chocolate. The Spanish were the first ones to mix sugar and chocolate. Other influences on Spanish Cuisine were Moorish and Jewish (Sephardic) cooking.
Spanish cuisine is considered Mediterranean cuisine. Seafood plays a large part in all Spanish cooking as do meats such as pork, chicken, lamb and beef. In contrast to the use of powerful spices in Mexico, Spanish cooking relies heavily on garlic and saffron. Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil in the world, and it’s used extensively in most Spanish dishes.

Spanish cooking varies greatly from region to region depending on location and geography. Here are a few:

  • Andalusia is famous for gazpacho, and iberico and serrano ham
  • Castilla-La Mancha (home of Don Quixote) relies on small game for meat because of its dry climate,
  • Catalonia has three regions – coastal, mountains and interior so the cuisine varies from seafood to pork with an extensive use of vegetables.
  • Valencia has two regions – coastal (home of Paella) and rural which has more meat based food.

Spain is also famous for tapas-  from the verb tapar (to cover). Tapas originated in Andalusia in bars or taverns where customers used slices of meat or bread to cover their drinks. Tapas have evolved from that simple origin to a sophisticated range of dishes using anything from vegetables to seafood and meats.
You can’t go wrong with either cuisine since both are delicious! You also can’t go wrong learning Spanish to order your favorite meals. Contact us at Luminoso Language Services to start your lessons.

Improve Your Spanish During the Day

People ask, “How do I improve my Spanish aside from taking lessons?” One answer is to integrate Spanish into your daily routine. Here are some easy ways to do it on and offline:

  1. Lots of websites have English/Spanish versions. Read them first in Spanish, then look at the English to see how you did.
  2. Read a Spanish language newspaper online or in print.
  3. When you’re watching TV, watch movies or shows in Spanish. Turn on English subtitles to help your understanding if people are talking too fast.
  4. Read a book in Spanish. Here’s a link to Don Quixote in English and Spanish or pick a book you know well and read it in Spanish with your English copy close by.
  5. Are you a gamer? You can find Spanish language versions of your games online.
  6. Listen to podcasts in Spanish. Do the people speak too fast? Here’s a site that has slow, intermediate, and advanced podcasts News in Slow Spanish
  7. Pay attention when you’re out. Lots of stores and public places have multilingual signs and brochures you can read alongside English versions.
  8. Use different colored sticky notes to label objects around your house, it will help your vocabulary and brighten up your home!
  9. If you’re a list person, write your lists in Spanish.
  10. Join or find a Spanish speaking group.
  11. Don’t be shy! If you’re talking with a person who speaks Spanish, step up to the plate and talk to them – you’ll be amazed at how much you know!

These are some easy ways to integrate Spanish into your life and build confidence speaking a second language. For comprehensive, personal lessons online, click here and we’ll be in touch soon.

This Map Shows The Most Commonly Spoken Language in Every US State, Excluding English and Spanish.

The map above shows the most commonly spoken languages state-by-state after English and Spanish. Interestingly, the language areas correspond to immigration numbers since the country was founded.

Take a look at the map, think about your ethnic heritage, and see where the language of your family origins is located in the melting pot that is the United States.

The four most prevalent languages in the country are:

English – Is spoken by 79 percent of the population. It’s the default official language of the country because it’s the language that’s used by the government to conduct its business and communicate.

Spanish – Spanish is spoken as a first language by about 38 million Americans. The prevalence of Spanish is shown by the amount of students and adults studying it as a second language – children and adults are learning it as a second language in record numbers. The U.S. is the fifth largest Spanish speaking country in the world.

Chinese – The third largest spoken language in the U.S. is spoken by 3 million Americans. While Cantonese is dominant, more people are beginning to study Mandarin as it is the official language of the People’s Republic of China.

Tagalog – a Philippine language, is the fourth-most spoken language in the U.S. It’s spoken by almost 2 million people. Filipinos are the second fastest growing Asian population in the country after China.

Contact us to find out more about personalized Spanish and Italian lessons.

¿Por qué es tan difícil recordar las contraseñas nuevas?/Why is it so difficult to remember new passwords?

Según un estudio, cierta información ‘importante’ es bloqueada por el cerebro casi de manera automática, haciendo imposible recordar contraseñas nuevas.

Recordar contraseñas nuevas puede ser una pesadilla. Tan solo basta con hacer la búsqueda apropiada en Google para encontrar millones de páginas que intentan ayudar a usuarios desesperados por entrar a una cuenta con una clave que olvidó por completo.

Aunque muchos decidan culparse por ello, ignorar datos tan importantes puede obedecer a una conducta del cerebro completamente normal. Al menos así quedó marcado en un estudio de la Universidad de Zhejiang en China, donde se realizaron una serie de experimentos para explicar la facilidad con la que las personas olvidan cosas que no deberían olvidar.

Según se lee en el estudio publicado por la revista Science Advances, el cerebro activa inconscientemente una serie de mecanismos que bloquean la permanencia de información ‘importante’ en la memoria de trabajo de las personas casi en automático.

Los expertos incluso aseguran que el cerebro puede ser tan selectivo que a veces le resultará más fácil recordar lo que se pidió ignorar deliberadamente que los datos necesarios para llevar a cabo procesos básicos como entrar a un correo electrónico.

Lee el artículo completo

Why is it so difficult to remember new passwords?

According to one study, certain ‘important’ information is blocked by the brain almost automatically, making it impossible to remember new passwords.

Remembering new passwords can be a nightmare. Just do the appropriate search on Google to find millions of pages that try to help users desperate to enter an account with a password that they completely forgot.

Although many choose to blame themselves for it, ignoring such important data can be due to completely normal brain behavior. At least that is how it was marked in a study by Zhejiang University in China, where a series of experiments were carried out to explain the ease with which people forget things that they should not forget.

According to the study published by the journal Science Advances, the brain unconsciously activates a series of mechanisms that block the permanence of ‘important’ information in people’s working memory almost automatically.

Experts even say that the brain can be so selective that sometimes it will be easier to remember what was asked to deliberately ignore than the data necessary to carry out basic processes such as entering an email.

Read the full article in Spanish

Un poquito menos de sal ayuda bastante/Cutting Out Even a Little Salt Can Have Big Health Benefits

A veces, los cambios aparentemente pequeños en beneficio de nuestra salud pueden suponer una diferencia muy grande. Tal es el caso del efecto sobre la presión arterial del sodio, un nutriente esencial y la problemática mitad del cloruro de sodio, el popular condimento que conocemos comúnmente como sal.

La cantidad de sal que se puede consumir sin peligro ha sido objeto de controversia durante un siglo, y es poco probable que el debate se resuelva pronto.

Leer más aquí

Cutting Out Even a Little Salt Can Have Big Health Benefits

Sometimes, seemingly small changes in a health measurement can make a very large difference to people’s well-being. Such is the case with the effect on blood pressure of the essential nutrient sodium, the problematic half of the popular flavoring agent sodium chloride, commonly known as salt.

The amount of salt that is safe for people to consume has been embroiled in controversy for a century, and the debate is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

Read More here

La tarta de fresas con crema de la abuela, reinventada/A Retro Icebox Pie Gets a Vibrant Makeover

Un postre vintage adquiere una dimensión de ensueño con la ayuda de un poco de alquimia de refrigeradora e ingredientes muy frescos.

Hay pocos postres de dos ingredientes tan extraordinarios como una tarta helada de galletas.

Cuando la crema batida y las galletas crujientes de vainilla estilo wafer se superponen en una sencilla combinación y se dejan enfriar durante la noche, ambos ingredientes renacen. Las galletas secas y quebradizas absorben la humedad de la crema batida y se ablandan hasta convertirse en un pastel, mientras que la crema se endurece hasta convertirse en un bloque glaseado con la firmeza suficiente para poder cortarlo. Es un milagro cotidiano que siempre resulta emocionante.

Para disfrutar de esta receta, haga clic AQUÍ

A Retro Icebox Pie Gets a Vibrant Makeover

Add some refrigerator alchemy to vanilla wafers, fresh strawberries and mounds of whipped cream for a dreamy, creamy late-summer dessert.

There are few two-ingredient desserts as transcendent as an icebox cake.

When the unassuming combination of whipped cream and crisp wafer cookies is layered together and chilled overnight, each is reborn. The brittle, dry cookies absorb the moisture of the cream, softening into cake, while the whipped cream stiffens up into a plush snowdrift of frosting that’s just barely firm enough to slice. It’s an everyday miracle that’s always a thrill.

To enjoy this recipe, click HERE