What is a Quinceañera and Why is it so Important?
Although a Quinceañera may appear at first glance to be simply a festive, lavishly adorned birthday party, it also has a deeper significance that extends to the girl’s personal self. The Quinceañera, which literally translates to “the girl who is 15,” signifies a young girl’s transition in becoming a mature woman who is capable of independence in that she can make her own decisions and symbolizes her transition and growth into womanhood. It also plays a symbolic gesture in that it reaffirms her beliefs to her church and her personal faith. This celebration has a religious ceremony followed by a party and combines a blend of traditional customs with contemporary trends.
This coming-of-age ceremony plays an important part in preserving the heritage and cultures of the individual. Similar to the process of planning a wedding, the quince requires the same amount of effort, time, and proper preparation in order to make the person’s birthday a memorable event. A girl usually invites her friends and family, as well as others who have made an impact in her life. In addition to organizing this gigantic or intimate party, the girl must decide on all the details from her court to the venue, as this is custom-tailored to her preferences.
Like a “Sweet 16”, the quince’s symbolic and memorable significance has a profound impact in the lives of the individuals, as it is a giant step toward their future.
The most important part of the celebration is the church, as it’s traditional quince religious affiliations go hand in hand. This solemn ritual may vary depending on venue, but usually a speech is given and customary demonstrations are proposed during the ceremony. Depending on the church, the girl may be required to attend several classes in advance to prepare for this ritual and know what to expect when the time comes for the actual event.
A few of these rituals may include the presenting of the prayer book or Bible and rosary also known as “libro y rosario” which signifies prayer and religion. A girl may also receive a tiara, cross or medal, and scepter. The tiara is used for the crowning ceremony and recognizes her as a triumphant individual in front of her family and God. The cross or medal is also a symbol of her religious faith. Lastly, the scepter signifies her responsibility and authority in the world. In addition, the individual may also receive jewelry items such as a necklace and a ring, which represents a symbolic gesture of her transition to becoming a woman. The girl also prepares a speech to thank God, her family, her sponsors, her court, and her attendees, who may present her with these gifts.
The girl should also plan her court, which generally consists of fourteen people total: seven males called “chambelanes” and seven females known as “damas”, to make up a grand total of seven couples. The court is usually comprised of the girl’s family and best friends whose duties are to support her throughout the quince planning, whether it is through learning the dances or offering help when needed.
There are also many traditions that go alongside hosting a Quinceañera, for instance, the dances that the girl and her court will perform, which may include the entrance, waltz, toast, and “baile sorpresa” (surprise dance). Ceremonially, a girl and her father dance together as it signifies the young woman’s first dance.
Planning the Quince Celebration
On the other hand, the party requires the same amount of proper planning as the religious ceremony does. Since the party is similar to a wedding reception, the same amount of preparation goes into planning for the event. The dinner party must include catering, the venue of one’s choice, decorations, flowers, a theme, music, a limousine, photography, and much more. In preparation for this, one must follow careful planning in order to ensure that her big event runs smoothly. This is comprised of budgeting and making insightful decisions. The individual herself can determine all the aspects of the party, as this is her big day to shine. For example, some may choose to adhere to simplicity or something more traditional, while others may decide on a wild theme or something trendier.
Lastly, another major aspect of the celebration includes the girl’s personal pampering and attire. One of the focal points of the girl’s event is her dress. Although the dress is not meant to take center stage, it certainly enhances the girl’s inner and outer beauty. As a result, picking the dress is a vital step in the quince itself.
There is also much preparation to be done in selecting beauty rituals, which can range from manicures, hair styling, makeup, and other processes. Another important factor in this ceremony includes photography. As the girl may want to document her firsthand experience and have a memorable keepsake to remember this transition, the proper photographer for her must be fitting to ensure that the outcome is to her liking.
As this can become a costly event with all the prices of each individual aspect adding up, the young woman may request the help of sponsors, which can be made up of both family members and friends. It is courteous for the girl to thank her sponsors in her speech at the event as well as send notes to demonstrate her appreciation for all the help that they put into helping support her through this transition to womanhood.
All in all, the Quinceañera party has meaning to it as well in that it reflects the individualism of the girl and can reflect her background, culture, and beliefs along with her own quirky sense of style. This fifteenth birthday party is an exciting, significant event that demonstrates her public declaration of showing her maturity and its emotional ties to herself, her faith, and her culture play a big part in the quince as a whole.
– By Bonnie W.