On Turning 15- Latin Style

In every little girls upbringing there is a special moment that she looks forward to. A Quinceañera is the one day where a girl makes the transition from a girl to a young lady. The Quinceañera tradition dates back to the ancient Mexican Society and can be traced back to the Aztecs as far back as 500 BC. Back then Quinceañeras were used to reinforce cultural beliefs in girls. In more modern times the ceremony is a reaffirmation of the baptismal vows made by her parents now as it was then a candle is lit during the ceremony to signify this. The only right of passage that comes close to a Quinceañera would be a wedding with all the preparation and religious atmosphere. When a girl reaches her fifteenth birthday in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America, she celebrates her Quinceañera. The Quinceañera starts off her grand celebration with a mass service accompanied by her full quince court and Chambelan De Honor (the main escort). Commonly the Quinceañera will wear flat shoes and later receive a pair of high heels to wear by someone special symbolizing the change from girl to young lady. Many other special gifts are given with a special meaning behind each one. A tiara is worn as a sign of leaving childhood behind and facing the challenges that lay ahead, she is presented with either a bracelet or ring (or both) representing the unending circle of life, earrings are a reminder to listen and pay attention to the word of God and the world around her, a cross or medallion signifies faith and a rosary or prayer book are religious resources to always remind the young lady to remember her devotion to God!. Finally, a porcelain doll is present, usually wearing a matching dress to that of the Quinceañera with ribbons stating the name of the girl and date of the party. The doll also represents her last toy encouraging her to leave childish toys behind. The Quinceañera is the princess for the day and very sought after by much of her family and friends. A lot of her input goes into the party planning and most of the time what she says goes. Anything from what special dress she will wear, to the center pieces, the color scheme, and her quince court the Quinceañera has an input. A lot of the time there will be either a live group performing, Mariachi, a DJ, or sometimes even all three. The cake is also very important and usually decorated with small statues of the Quinceañera and entire court. Usually a special toast in honor of the Quinceañera will take place in which all who attend can say a few words and toast to her. Later on that night a couple of performances can take place by the Quinceañera and her full court, a waltz and sometimes even a surprise performance. Most often keepsakes will be handed out to all the guest in appreciation of their presence and as a reminder of that very special day. The night usually ends on a positive note and memories that will last a lifetime will take place.

 Lesli Nietos

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