Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
The month of May is observed in the U.S. as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in order to commemorate the contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States and celebrate the rich cultural heritage they have imparted to all Americans.
The original heritage week was created in 1978 to coincide with the anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in America, which occurred on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad (by many Chinese laborers) on May 10, 1869. In 1990, Asian Pacifican American Heritage Week was expanded to a month long celebration. By 1992, May was officially designated as “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month”.
8 Ways to Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
There are many ways that you can celebrate APA Heritage during the month of May. There are a number of traditions from a variety of cultures to be celebrated and much to learn. To help you narrow it down a bit, here are a few examples of ways that you can celebrate throughout the year.
1. Study the history of a particular culture or event. Have you ever wanted to learn about a specific event or historic figure? Take some time this month to do so. Maybe you’re interested in learning more about Japanese internment in the U.S. during WWII or ancient explorers and engineers.
2. Read books from APA authors. Whether you study poetry, lit or fiction, I’m sure there is an author out there for you. Maybe it’s the writings of Mitsuye Yamada, who writes about feminism, race and politics or perhaps Krys Lee, author of Drifting House and the blogger behind Koreanish. Look up some interesting authors and commit to exploring them this month.
3. Celebrate common traditions of a specific culture. Explore something that fascinates you about a specific culture. Maybe Japanese Kimonos or a particular religious practice interests you. Read up on it or search online. If you have the opportunity to travel or connect with family and friends who can provide more details.
4. Practice a foreign language. It’s never too late to put your language skills to practice. Pick up a video or cd and sign up for a local class. Start teaching a new language, like Mandarin, to your little ones and you’ll be surprised how much you will also pick up.
5. Eat traditional foods. Dim sum, rice dumplings, bulgogi and more, if there is a favorite recipe that you’ve been dying to learn how to make at home, don’t wait. Perfect your recipe and share it with your family and friends to keep the traditions going for the next generation.
6. Watch a documentary or film. Netflix has all kinds of great documentaries live streaming. Check out Time of Fear or browse the foreign films section. Discover new actors and films that you hadn’t watched before and be sure to share your favorites with family and friends.
7. Attend local festivals or cultural events. Heritage months always present a wealth of opportunities to sample the flavors and traditions of a diversity of cultures. Check your local newspaper, search online and ask around in your network to discover the latest happenings. Your local visitors bureau is another great option.
8. Bookmark your favorite APA blogs. Why stop celebrating and learning after May ends? Bookmark your favorite blogs and keep going back for more. Here are a few to get you started:
- Asian Mommy
- Hapa Mama
- Hao Mama
- Bicultural Mama
- Angry Asian Man
- 8 Asians
- White On Rice Couple
- Pham Fatale
- I Believe I Can Fry
- Wandering Chopsticks