Getting Started – What Is A Quinceañera

Sweet 15, or Quinceañera has a long tradition.

The tribes of Meso-America, possibly the Mayas and Toltecs, celebrated elaborate rites of passage for their young men and women. Rites of passage are known to have existed in the Iberian Peninsula as well.

The Spanish conquistadores may have brought the practice to Meso-America. It is possible that the missionaries would have approved of this practice, since these rites closely paralleled Christian practices of initiation and marriage. The ancient Mozarabic Rite of the Iberian peninsula had elaborate rituals marking the passage of baptized adolescents, each of which included specific references to Christian initiation and each of which was celebrated following the reception of Holy Communion at Mass.

With the suppression of the Mozarabic Rite, many of these rituals passed into popular religious practice.

What?

Sweet 15 is a major milestone in a girl’s life—a long-established celebration all over the world.

A Quinceañera Celebration is usually celebrated by a Latina when she turns fifteen. However with the influence of the American culture combined with the Hispanic culture some girls are choosing to celebrate their Quinceañera on their sixteenth birthday.

As a time-honored tradition for girls, planning this celebration takes a great deal of planning. The attention to rich culture and tradition is important and many celebrate it differently. Adding a little extra must fit your taste and that of your family’s customs.

While the majority of Latino families are still following the traditional right of passage Quinceañera ceremony: celebrating the mass of Thanksgiving, at the church followed by a big fiesta.

The fiestas range from Cinderella type balls to smaller less formal parties.

The beginnings of Quinceañera go way back to the combining of Christianity, the Aztec religion and lifestyle when the Spanish conquered the Aztec Indians in the 1500’s.

It is still popular amongst the Hispanics in Mexico, the United States, South America and in other Spanish-speaking countries. The kind of party depends on what the family can afford and what the Quinceañera would like to have.

Purpose?

This special celebration marks the beginning of womanhood as she “comes out” to be presented to society.

Tradition places additional responsibilities on the young woman after her Quinceañera such as household duties, family needs, work, volunteerism, or even marriage.

While a great deal of attention is placed on the party and the celebration, the basic belief is for the young woman to live a life of faith, good moral principles, devotion to her community and live a wholesome lifestyle. Girls from mixed cultural families are enjoying celebrating Quinceañera’s also. They are blending both the American culture and the Latino culture.

And are calling it a Sweet 15 celebration instead of a Quinceañera. This avoids some of the religious aspects of the rite of passage.

The ceremony is value and moral centered. Like the milestone markers of birth, baptism, and confirmation, the Quinceañera gives thanks to God.

Spiritual reverence is important for some families planning this event. They also have the duty to assist with the financial costs of the event along side the godparents and other special friends and family members.

Decide who will be members of your court. Fourteen couples (one for each year of your life) are chosen. Fourteen Damas (maids of honors) and fourteen chamberlanes (chamberlains) may include family members and/or close friends. You might also consider having flower girls to scatter rose petals or to carry a basket of flowers.

Visit the pages through this site for planning tips & ideas.

When

Customs & Traditions

The birthday girl is serenaded by a mariachi band in front of her house the night before her 15th birthday . A celebration is planned for her birth date or the Saturday closest to her birthday — Quinceañera!

The ritual emphasizes her passage from childhood to adulthood.

The family usually requests a Mass or a blessing to be held in the Church. The rite is frequently celebrated in several countries in the Americas, including Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

It is frequently requested by Hispanic Catholics in the dioceses of the United States of America.

Where?

Families who have large budgets often times choose to have very elaborate parties held in the main ball room of five star hotels. With a live band and a D.J. who many times put on a special light show. To the other extreme are the families who choose to celebrate their daughter’s Quinceañera at their church’s central meeting hall.

Typically, a church mass is celebrated. The dinner and dance celebration can be held at the church hall, a reception/banquet hall, or other unique possibilities.

How? will have a touch of protocol and a touch of special creativity as discussed with your Priest or Pastor. As with most ceremonies, consider the following as ideas:

  1. Special Scripture or Poem reading by a designated person
  2. Candle Lighting Ceremony (14 candles for the Court, parents, Godparents and the Quinceañera)
  3. Special music
  4. Signing of the Certificate (Parents and Godparents can personally sign)….see above certificate
  5. Acknowledgement and Recognition of other “special people”
  6. Special Prayer or Verse

Therefore, anything goes. As long as the gal’s parents approve and they will pay for it, there is no limit as to what can be created.

The cost just depends on how much the parents want to spend. While it’s expected that a traditional quince will be expensive, I’ve also seen Sweet 16s that were stupidly extravagant to the point where you’re shaking your head at the waste of it.

Dance Program

After the Court is presented and then the Quinceañera, special dances are reserved as follows:

  • The first dance is a waltz danced with the Quinceañera and her father
  • The Court of Honor is presented
  • The Godparents join in
  • Lastly, the dance floor is open for guests
  • Males usually take turns dancing with the Quinceañera
  • After this presentation, the toast is given and the cake is served.

Following these initial presentation dances, the guests join the dance floor as well.

Godparents play a significant role in the preparations for the Quinceaños, often handling arrangements for the party, church and celebration. The event is the culmination of the godparents’ responsibility to oversee the religious upbringing of their goddaughter.

Otherwise, it is customary for the Quinceañera’s parents to arrange the celebration.

Dance Music

  • Taboo- Don Omar(Better Than J-Lo Haha)
  • Mi Vecinita – Kpaz (Old But Still Cool)
  • Los Sanguinarios Del M1 – Los Buitres Komander Y Los Buknas
  • Las Mujeres Que Quieren Bailar
  • Abeja Miope- Brazeros Musicales
  • Verano Azul – Juan Magan
  • El Katch – Compa Chuy
  • Baila Mi Cumbia- La Onda

Things to Consider

  1. Talking with the Priest
  2. Favorite theme color(s)
  3. Dress color (white, pink or another color?)
  4. Music
  5. Guest List
  6. Church location
  7. Banquet/Dance Hall
  8. Decorative Theme
  9. Table treats & decor
  10. Food
  11. Bakery
  12. Choice of Chambelanes and Damas
  13. Formal wear rental
  14. Hire a Coordinator, party planner or wedding consultant

Remembrance Cards

Religious & Cultural aspects of the Quinceañera Mass is a very important part of the tradition.

Be sure to reserve the church well in advance. The Quinceañera is accompanied by her parents and her godparents (padrinos). The Quinceañera is presented to the center of the altar for Mass. The service also includes the blessing of special gifts by the priest, scripture reading, music and song. It can be at this time or after the banquet, yet it is customary for the mother of the Quinceañera to place the tiara upon her daughter’s head, the father change her flat shoes to high heels and the Quinceañera gives her youngest sister (or parents) her porcelain doll.

This is like the “cutting of the apron strings” where the Quinceañera becomes a young woman.

Attire

Most Quinceañera’s appear to be concerned about the style of her dress and the color theme of her party. The most popular colors are still pink and lavender. But, there seems to be a trend toward brighter colors. Like orange, yellow and sometimes shades of red. It all depends on what the Quinceañera’s favorite color is.

It is customary for the Quinceañera to receive some or all of the following items for her ceremony:

Tiara

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.

Many can quote scriptures from the Bible… it is possible.

But your guests may not share the same interpretation or accept the implied interpretation to accommodate their own personal opinions. But then again, also, many under the guidance of the Holy Spirit can fully grasp the message told in the scriptures.

Quoting scriptures is easy.

Understanding the whole Bible, in accordance to the way it was written not on a biased interpretation, it is a Gift. for the person above, who mentioned something about Baptism and the Trinity:

Read Matthew 28: 18 – 19. “”Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,…””

Scepter

Symbolizes authority, and more importantly, responsibility for her life, that is now being given to the young woman.

  • Quinceañera traditionally wears a ball gown, with her Court dressed in gowns and tuxedos.

Spiritual reverence is important for some families planning this event.

They also have the duty to assist with the financial costs of the event along side the godparents and other special friends and family members. To cover the multiple expenses, a host of padrinos and madrinas may be invited to sponsor, respectively, the dress, the music, the locale, the bar, the cake and the table favors. In some Hispanic cultures, the gifts are given to the Quinceañera 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.

  • At the church ceremony, a special Kneeling Pillow, sometimes personalized with the Quinceañera’s name, is placed in position for the young girl to kneel on during the ceremony
  • Smaller decorated Ceremony Pillows for the presentation of the Quinceañera’s ceremony gifts, such as the Tiara, the Scepter and the Shoes.
  • The tiara also plays a role in the actual Quinceañera ceremony. It is traditional for the headpiece worn by the Quinceañera 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 Quinceañera at the same time. This ceremony usually takes place at the reception. This must be decided upon—reception or church service.

Decide who will be members of the court. Fourteen couples (one for each year of your life) are chosen. Fourteen Damas (maids of honors) and fourteen chamberlanes (chamberlains) may include family members and/or close friends as well as her personal chambelan (escort).

You might also consider lining up flower girls to scatter rose petals or to carry a basket of flowers. At the end of the mass younger sisters, cousins and friends pass out bolos (commemorative favors) to those in attendance as the Quinceañera places her bouquet upon the altar of the for the Virgin Maria.

There are also bolos or gifts set out on the tables at the reception/dance, usually ceramicas, are souvenirs of the occasion for all the guests who attended the celebration.

When? The birthday girl is serenaded by a mariachi band in front of her house the night before her 15th birthday. A celebration is planned for her birth date or the Saturday closest to her birthday—Quinceañera!

There are more and more Latino boys who are having parties on their fifteenth birthday and calling it a Quinceanero.

Like most things the only limitation is ones imagination and the budget.

Enjoy what ever you choose to do.