Feast Day of the Virgen de las Mercedes

Today is the Feast day of the Virgen de las Mercedes (Virgin of Mercy) and the day to honor the Santeria god Obatalá.  The Virgin is honored throughout South and Central America and in Spain and Portugal.  Obatalá is honored in Cuba and Brazil, and is also considered as part of the Yoruba religion. For more information on the Yoruba influence in the Americas, please visit the Smithsonian digital exhibit, the Yoruba – Dahomean Collection: Orishas across the Ocean.

Start of Hispanic / Latinx Heritage Month

September 15 is the official start of our nation’s annual celebration of Hispanic / Latinx Heritage Month, which continues through October 15.  Latinx Heritage Week was initially approved by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, and in 1988 President Ronald Reagan extended the week to a month of celebration.  September 15 was selected since five Latin American countries celebrate their independence on this day. (Image by Purdue University Latino Cultural Center)

Feast of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre

September 8 is the annual Feast of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Virgin of the Charity of Copper). The Virgin is nicknamed “Cachita”  and she is highly revered in Cuba.  During colonial times, the Virgin is believed to have intervened on behalf of native Cubans, saving them during a violent storm as they fled from the Spanish.  The Virgin then took up residence in the mountains in an area with copper mines, where she is honored with a shrine. Practitioners of Santería (an AfroCaribbean religion) honor and celebrate their goddess of love, Ochún, on this day as well. (Photo by Rafael de la Osa)