Why do many Hispanics have two last names?

In Spain and Latin America, a child is given both its father’s last name and its mother’s maiden name.

For example, Anita Castillo Sanchez would be the daughter of a father named Castillo and a mother whose maiden name was Sanchez.

The mother is thereby honored along with the father, though her name will drop out in subsequent generations. For example, if Anita has a daughter Josefina by a man named Martinez, the daughter is born Josefina Martinez Castillo; the name Sanchez disappears.

In the United States, Hispanics usually streamline their two last names down to one, the father’s name.