Quinceanera Parties

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[edit] History

Celebrated throughout Latin America and Latino communities in the United States, the Quinceanera or the 15th Birthday is an important rite of passage for young Latina women, representing the transition from girlhood to womanhood. The celebration highlights God, family, friends, music, food, and dance.
This coming-of-age celebration has its roots in the Catholic Church and and Aztec traditions. Missionary Bernardino de Sahagun chronicled Aztec parents acknowledging their daughters passage into womanhood by giving instructions and advise on adjusting into adulthood. Others suggest the Spanish brought their traditions of the debutante balls and royal court presentations, which the natives eventually adopted. Over the centuries, as the Spaniards and native populations intermarried, the quinceanera evolved from a combination of these traditions. [1] [2]

[edit] Quinceanera Celebration

Originally, the ceremony was to show that the young woman (La Quinceanera) was now ready to be married and have children. Nowadays, the celebration is more about the young woman taking responsibility for her religious and spiritual life.[3]
The celebration begins with a thanksgiving mass, in which the birthday girl arrives in an elaborate dress along with her parents and godparents, and is seated at the alter of the church. Traditionally, the quinceañera was always escorted by her father (or another male relative). Today, some girls even have escorts their own age. She is often accompanied by the court of honor, often consisting of 7 damas (maids of honor) and 7 chambelanes (chamberlains) during the ceremony, although some may have more, some less. At the end of the service, younger relatives of the quinceanera pass out favors to those in attendance, and the quinceanera deposits her bouquet at the alter of the Virgin Mary. The ceremony embraces religious traditions, and the virtues of family and social responsibility.
The mass is usually followed by a party. First a presentation of the court is performed. Her godparents may hand her a scepter and a Bible, rosary and other gifts that were blessed during the mass. In some presentations, the father helps the quinceañera change from flat shoes she wore to the church to her first pair of high heels, symbolizing her journey from childhood to becoming a young woman. There is also a father/daughter dance, symbolizing the father's recognition that his “little girl” is now a lady. Traditionally after the father-daughter dance, the court would perform a choreographed waltz, however, this custom is becoming increasingly rare. During the party, the girl’s parents and godparents toast the quinceañera, commenting on her new adult role, her growing faith or their pride and love for her.[4] [5]
For the ceremony, it is common that the quinceanera receives gifts of tiaras, jewelry, bibles, prayer books and rosaries. There are also gifts that are used to commemorate the event, including photo albums, engraved champagne glasses, and dolls.[6] There is significance to each gift that is presented during the quinceanera celebration.

[edit] Meaning of Quinceanera Gifts

  • Tiara - represents the girl is a "princess" before God and the world, that she is prepared for the future.
  • Cross, Bible, Rosary - represent her faith in God and adherence to his words.
  • Scepter - represents authority, and the responsibility that they now have over their lives.
  • Quinceanera Doll -represents the transition from childhood into womanhood, the last doll that she will ever receive.
  • Bracelet, Ring, or Earrings - represents her relationship with God, and infinite love of God and that she will always listen to God.
The quinceanera is an event steeped in history and tradition, and still remains a cherished event in the Latin-American community to this day.

[edit] Modern Quinceanera Celebrations

In modern American culture the 16th birthday has become a significant birthday celebration and many Latin American families will combine the Quinceanera celebration with the 16th birthday. Some of the birthday girls choose not to have a party after the mass ceremony, and they will take cruises. Modern celebrations also involve unique party locations such as local yachts, sports arenas, and even Disney World. Quinceanera celebrations can be as elaborate as weddings and are just as important in the young ladies life. Guests to the celebration may be bring gifts for the birthday girl to open after the church ceremony, make sure to include this information on your invitations These gifts can be anything age-appropriate that you would give for a birthday celebration. Giving money for this occasion is acceptable, as long as the amount is appropriate and is presented within a nice card.

[edit] Related Items

[edit] References

  1. La Quinceañera: A Celebration of Budding Womanhood
  2. Quinceanera History Lesson
  3. Quinceanera
  4. History of the Quinceañera Celebration
  5. Quinceañera Party History
  6. Quinceanera Tradition