A Quinceañera is the Hispanic tradition of celebrating
a young girl's coming of age - her 15th birthday.
Today's celebrations embrace religious customs, and the virtues of family and
social responsibility. The Quinceanera tradition celebrates the young girl
(la Quinceanera), and recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity.
The customs highlight God, family, friends, music, food, and dance.
Interestingly, many families today are merging their Hispanic and American
heritages by choosing to celebrate a Sweet Sixteen. For their Sweet 16 party,
the families do the full-blown quinceanera traditions - the religious ceremony,
the reception, the tiara with the number 16, and more. We encourage families to
select the customs that have special meaning to them and to add to the customs
as they wish. That is what makes the celebration unique and very special.
In the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American traditions, the custom can be referred to as a Quince (XV) Años, a quinces,a Quinceanera, a Quinceanero or a Fiesta Rosa.
The Quinceanera celebration traditionally begins with a religious ceremony. A Reception is held in the home or a banquet hall. The festivities include food and music, and in most, a choreographed waltz or dance performed by the Quinceanera and her Court.
It is traditional for the Quinceanera to choose special friends to participate in what is called the Court of Honor. Usually, these young people are her closest friends, her brothers, sisters, cousins - the special people in her life with whom she wants to share the spotlight. The Quinceanera's Court of Honor can be comprised of all young girls (called Damas), all young men (called Chambelanes or Escortes or Galán) or a combination of both boys and girls.
The Quinceanera traditionally wears a ball gown, with her Court dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Guests usually receive small tokens, cápias, to commemorate the celebration.
It is customary for the Quinceanera to receive some or all of the following items for her ceremony.
- Cross or medal
- Bible or prayer book and rosary
Other accessories for this special occasion might be:
- Flower Bouquet
- Cake Decoration
- Cake server set
- Champagne glasses
- The last doll
- Guest book
- Photo album
- Invitations/reception cards
- Ceremony pillows
- Guest favors
There are many traditions throughout the quinceanera celebration. One of the most popular is the Changing of the Shoes. The father or favored male relative ceremoniously changes the young girl's flat shoes to high heels. This is a beautiful symbol of the Quinceanera's transformation from a little girl to a young lady.
At the church ceremony, a special Kneeling Pillow, sometimes personalized with the Quinceanera's name, is placed in position for the young girl to kneel on during the ceremony. And, a touch of elegance is added with smaller decorated Ceremony Pillows for the presentation of the Quinceanera's ceremony gifts, such as the Tiara, the Scepter and the Shoes.
At the reception, there is always the toast to the Quinceanera, known as the brindis. With decorated Champagne Glasses, the guests are invited to offer their congratulations and best wishes.
The Last Doll is used as part of the ceremony or as decoration and keepsake. The Quinceanera doll represents the last things of a child now that the Quinceanera will focus on the things of a young lady. In some Hispanic cultures, the cápias (printed ribbons with the Quinceanera's name and date) are pinned to the doll, and the Quinceanera circulates among her guests, thanking them for their presence and presenting them with the memento taken from the doll.
In another custom, to symbolize leaving childhood things behind,
the Quinceanera passes on her Last Doll to a younger sibling.
The Quince Años is a glorious celebration that remains a cherished and honored tradition.
The Traditional Ceremony Gifts
The Traditional Ceremony Gifts have special meaning for the Quinceanera celebration, and their honored significance relates to the Quinceanera's coming of age. The Traditional Ceremony Gifts are special signs of loyalty and commitment to God, family and the community. Where the celebration includes the Mass of Thanksgiving, the gifts are presented to the priest for special blessing. These ceremonial items may include:
Denotes a "princess" before God and the world; a triumph over childhood and ability to face the challenges ahead.
CROSS or MEDAL
Signifies faith - in God, in herself, and in her world.
BIBLE (or PRAYER BOOK) & ROSARY
Important resources to keep the word of God in her life.
Symbolizes authority, and more importantly, responsibility for her life, that is now being given to the young woman.
In some Hispanic cultures, the gifts are given to the Quinceanera by "padrinos" (also called godparents or sponsors) specially chosen by the family. The padrinos who give the Traditional Ceremony Gifts are formally recognized, and often are part of the procession for either the church or reception ceremony, or do the presentation of the gifts to the priest for the blessing.
The TIARA also plays a role in the actual Quinceanera ceremony. It is traditional for the headpiece worn by the Quinceanera to be ceremoniously replaced with the TIARA. The "Crowning" is done either by her parents or the godparents presenting the gift. The Scepter is also presented to the Quinceanera at the same time. This ceremony usually takes place at the reception.
The Ceremony Gifts are the distinctive, precious treasures for the ceremony; a cherished custom that highlights the Quinceanera tradition.
Posted April, 2002
The mix of family and friends, young and old, near and far - all combine to make the celebration unique and special. Guests experiencing this beautiful tradition for the first time, frequently ask us, "Is a gift appropriate?" Yes, dear friends, a gift is appropriate. A Quinceañera or Sweet Sixteen celebration is basically a big birthday party (although a very special, very memorable one). So, anything that you think the young lady would like to receive would be an appropriate gift.
We do suggest, however, that because this is such a unique birthday, that you select a gift that commemorates this very special event in her life. At Quinceanera-Boutique.com, we make every effort to offer items that are unique to the Sweet Fifteen and Sweet Sixteen celebrations. You will find items that would make very distinctive gifts on our website page, Special Gift Ideas.
Whatever you choose, we are certain that the young lady will appreciate your gift.
Enjoy your experience with the Quinceanera tradition!
Posted June, 2007
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