Hispanic Heritage Month: Recognizing culture and tradition

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 11:35 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - We are in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month. It goes from September 15th to October 15th. a Per the U.S Census Bureau, this 30 day time-frame is meant to celebrate Hispanic histories and culture.

Jennifer Grullon and Maria Lara-Bregatta are both prominent members of the Burlington community.

“I’m first generation Dominican,” Lara-Bregatte said. “My father immigrated here in the early 1980′s.”

Lara-Bregatta originally came to Vermont to attend UVM. She owns Café Mamajuana. Their dining room is closed for now, but they still cater Dominican food. Lara-Bregatta says she chose to stay in Vermont and open the restaurant when she realized the community was missing out on the foods she grew up eating. She says Hispanic heritage month is about visibility.

“It’s just a space to be valued and seen and I think that’s really important. I think any time to celebrate is awesome and Hispanics really like to celebrate life,” Lara-Bregatta said.

Grullon, has Dominican and Puerto Rican roots, might sound familiar to some of you. She’s better known as ‘Jenna Gee’ on 95 Triple X. “I believe that heritage is shaped over time and having a month where Hispanic heritage is recognized, that allows us to shape our heritage overtime,” Gullon said.

She and Lara-Bregatta both say their Hispanic heritage influences their work.

“I just try to take each day with compassion and humor,” Lara-Bregatta said. “We all like to laugh and I think that’s a cultural thing.”

“I place a strong emphasis on my family and being present in my community,” Grullon said. “That’s definitely something that was influenced by my Hispanic upbringing.”

According to 2020 Census data, only 2.2% of Vermont residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx. While it’s a small community, Lara-Bregatta and Grullon say it’s strong.

“People always say there probably isn’t a lot of Latinas in your area and this restaurant has showed me there are and they’re hiding or they just don’t have a place to gather,” Lara-Begatta said.

“There’s an interesting community of people that live here and there’s a diverse community that’s growing and expanding, so I’m excited to contribute to that with my Dominican and Puerto Rican background,” Grullon said.

Hispanic Heritage month started on September 15th and ends on October 15th. That’s 30 days starting on the independence day of several Latin American countries. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days during this time frame.