A lot of the celebration takes on various traditions and each one has a very specific meaning.
In the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American traditions, the custom can be referred to as a Quince (XV) Años, a Quinces, or a Quinceañera.
The 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 Quinceañera and her court.
The celebration carries religious significance for Spanish-speaking Roman Catholics.
It begins with a religious ceremony in which the Quinceañera affirms her faith. It is customary for the Quinceañera to receive gifts that are religious in nature, such as a cross or medal, a Bible, rosary, or scepter. The presentation of these gifts by her Padrinos and/or her family members, along with their blessing by the priest, often forms a part of the ceremony.
After the conclusion of the Roman Catholic religious ceremony, a reception is held either in the Quinceañera’s home or in a banquet hall. The decor of this reception often resembles that of a wedding.
The Quinceañera girl/woman carries a doll (representing the last doll of her childhood) intended to represent her childhood. The doll is dressed like the girl. The girl’s father exchanges her flat shoes for heels after their dance together. During this exchange of the shoes, the father has the Quinceañera girl/woman give up her doll, symbolizing the Quinceañera girl giving up her childhood and becoming a woman. The quinceanera, will give up also her hair piece, to the next quinceanera to be, and the quinceanera’s Godfather will crown her.
This is followed by dances with her father, and then her godfather.
The Quinceañera’s court is typically composed of her padrinos (godparents) and the Chambelan, a young man who is her companion and date for the evening. The Chambelan typically has the first dance with the Quinceañera, a traditional ballroom “waltz” or “vals”. The Chambelan initiates the vals by requesting a dance, to classical music, with the Quinceañera. This girl also must dance a routine dance with the Chambelanes and the Damas.
This is followed by the toast given by parents of the Quinceañera, and after that the cutting of cake.
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.
The Quinceañera’s court can be comprised of young girls (called a Dama), young men (called Chambelán or Escorte or Galán) or a combination of both – traditionally up to 14 persons in the court, which with the Quinceañera, would total 15 young people.
The Quinceañera traditionally wears a ball gown, with her court usually dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Guests usually receive small tokens, cápias and cerámicas, to commemorate the celebration.
Required accessories include:
- bracelet or ring
- cross or medal or necklace
- Bible or Prayer Book and Rosary
Other possible accessories for this special occasion might be:
- flower bouquet
- cake decoration
- engraved cake server set
- engraved champagne glasses
- Quinceañera doll