Before I moved to Dallas, Texas, which has a strong Latina community, I was not aware of the traditions surrounding the Quinceaňera.
After spending time in Dallas I discovered the importance of this major coming of age tradition held by families of Mexican, Cuban and other Latin descents.
The Quinceanera is emerging as a mainstream event. I was amazed when I attended a Prom 2007 Show in the summer of 2006 to find several vendors specializing in Quincera gowns, accessories and fashions.
What exactly is the Quinceaňera?
It is the celebration of a Hispanic's girl's (la Quinceanera) transition into womanhood on her 15th birthday. Quinceaňera customs and ceremonies are many centuries old and may vary slightly from country to country. The Quinceaera is also strongly tied to the Hispanic girl's religious faith, her family traditions and her arrival as an adult from the viewpoint of her physical mental, emotional and spiritual transformation from girl to young woman. A Quinceaera is considered a major celebration of life and the extended family attends a party in the honor of the Hispanic girl to welcome her officially into the ranks of the adult community.
The Quinceaera is steeped in deep symbolism and has the feel of a pageant. In some respects it can be related to a formal coming out event held in non Hispanic communities that come complete with a court.
The young girl who is celebrating her transition to adulthood, depending on the family's fortunes, may wear an ornate gown complete with a crystal encrusted tiara or head dress.
While Quinceaera customs vary from country to country and city to city, the actual celebration is often tied to family or local traditions. Although there are traditional quide lines, traditions and customs, just like a wedding, the young Hispanic girls celebrating her Quinceaera can inject her own unique desires into the event.
The Quinceanera Court?
A young girls celebrating her Quinceaňera will often be attended by a circle or court of honor. The court will traditionally consist of both male and female attendees. The males are officially referred to as chambelanes while the female attendants are known as damas.
Similar to a wedding, the Quinceaňera will select her gown as the centerpiece of the fashions worn for her celebration. Whether her choice is to select a white gown and have her court wear all the same color or to select a color, the Quinceaňera defines the ultimate fashion style.
The young girls celebrating her Quinceaňera is also referred to as The Quince.
The Quinceanera Celebration
The celebration may be given a different name depending on the cultural composition of the family. It may be referred to as Quince Anos, a Quinces, A Quinceanera, A Quinceanero or a Fiesta Rosa.
A reception is held in the home of the family or at a hall, much like a wedding reception. The celebratory event begins with a formal religious ceremony attended by the extended family, friends and members of the community.
After the religious event is completed festivities include food, music and other traditional events. Depending on a variety of factors the reception might include a formal dance such as a waltz performed by The Quince and her formal court.
The Quinceanera is celebrated by people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American and South American ancestry. It is also celebrated in Spain.
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Original Publication Date: 12/14/06 - Revised Publication Date: 05/06/10
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