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The Quinceanera


What is Quinceanera? The definition of Quinceañera is a commemoration of the transition from childhood to young adulthood when Latin American girls turn 15.

The definition of Quinceañera is a commemoration of the transition from childhood to young adulthood when a Latin American girls turns 15. The birthday girl typically dresses in pastel colors however in recent years white is an increasingly popular choice to symbolize purity. This arguably causes the Quinceañera to resemble a bride. The girl may personalize her Quinceañera dress in any way she likes with sequins and pearls. In Mexico, the Quinceañera celebration is supposedly the first time that the young woman wears makeup. She also adorns herself with jewellery such as bracelets and necklaces. The immediate family of the girl gives a gift of a tiara to symbolize that she will always be a princess in their eyes.

Depending on the country, there are certain variations to the way in which the Quinceañera is celebrated: In Argentina, the ceremony known as the “fiesta de quince” begins with the daughter making a grand entrance to a slow song accompanied by her father. This is another way in which the Quinceañera celebration is comparable to a wedding. It is customary for friends and family to dress formally, and to give roses to the father of the Quinceañera. After this, there is a ball which is divided into segments, between which various courses of the celebratory meal are served. It is fair to say that dancing plays an important part in all Quinceañera celebrations. It is an Argentinean tradition for the Quinceañera to select 15 of her nearest and dearest who she feels have been most influential in her life so far and deliver them a candle each. More often than not, the candle giving is accompanied by a speech.

In Brazil, “the festa de debutantes” is divided into three periods of dancing. For the second period, the girl dances with her boyfriend or a close male friend of her choice. Another unique quality of the Brazilian way of celebrating the girls 15th birthday is that the friends prepare a tape on which they record their own personal messages and anecdotes usually accompanied by photographs and an appropriate soundtrack. In Cuba, it is typical to have a choreographed dance set midway through the celebration. This typically features 14 couples dressed in brightly colored outfits who waltz around the Quinceañera and her partner of choice. Mexican families are usually Catholics and so start their Quinceañera celebrations with a thanksgiving mass. Afterwards, the godparents of the girl give her the gift of a necklace with a pendant of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Patron Saint of Mexico. This gift will have been blessed by a clergyman ahead of time. Mexican Quinceañeras and their partners are customarily accompanied by 7 other “couples” known as the “damas” and “chambelanes”.

Some families may choose to add extra components such as the “Ceremonia de la Ultima Muñeca”. This ceremony involves the Quinceañera being given her “last doll” by her father. This is an ancient Mayan tradition. The ideology behind it is that the girl will give up the doll when she enters womanhood. A similar ceremony involves the Quinceañera being given her first pair of high-heeled shoes. Again, this symbolizes the transition from child to woman. The day after the celebration, it is customary for everybody from the Quinceañera party to get together again to eat up all the leftovers. This day is known as the “recalentado”. This literally translates as the “re-warming”. “Quinceañera” is also a film about two girlfriends approaching their 15th birthdays. One of the girls is from a wealthy background, the other is not. The film warns of the dangers of adulthood with one of the girls falling pregnant at a young age.