A Historical Rite of Passage

Rite of passage ceremonies into womanhood were practiced among most indigenous people in Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spanish.

Traditional coming-of-age ceremonies are still performed among and the remaining tribes of Mexico and the Southwest United States (Hopi, Pueblo, Apache). In Aztec society, after having received a mandatory general education, boys and girls both began their occupational training at the age of 15.

This was also commonly considered the appropriate marrying age for girls.

The quince años ceremony in particular came from Spanish culture during the latter part of the 1800s. In Mexico, this period of the century is called Porfiriato, which is comparable to the Victorian era in Anglo-speaking countries. The Mexican president Porfirio Diaz brought this celebration to Mexican culture due to his admiration of French culture; this includes the Vals (European music) and the term Chambelan.

The meaning of the ceremony has changed over the centuries, but the celebration is becoming more popular in the United States than it is in Latin America. Quince años celebrated in the United States reflect the family’s economic and social status, and the ceremony has become a means of preserving their culture as Latinos become more Americanized.

Quince años are, today, a unique feature of Latino culture.

Many Quinceañera in the United States have become more elaborate and extravagant than their Latin American counterparts.

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