A traditional Quinceañera is not just dictated by religion or cultural views. It is also shaped by the family traditions.
This means that the traditions of Quinceañeras may vary from family to family and from region to region but for the most part the core of the traditions are the same.
The size of the event will depend naturally on the financial capacity of the Quinceañera’s family, but for the most part the root traditions still remain the same through out all regions as well as social classes.
The beginning of the Quinceañera begins not with the festivities, as many believe but in the preparation of the upcoming event.
In some families, the planning begins up to two years in advance of the actual day. During the preparation time, much dreaming and planning takes place with many friends and more importantly family members involved. There is much work to be done and many details to be worked on. Of course, today there are many items available for purchase to relieve much of the work that used to go into preparing for such an event but then the originality and time with family is lost with the lightening of the burden that goes with preparing a handcrafted event.
From planning menus to choosing an area for the celebration hours of time are dedicated and spent to ensure that the Quinceañera has the day of her dreams.
The key components of the traditional Quinceañera celebration are as follows. The dress. Ah, the dress of the Quinceañera is one of the most stunning details and traditionally is white signifying her purity. Pale pink is also a very common and favorite color. The dress is similar to a wedding dress in its grandeur yet no train is placed upon a Quinceañera dress but all of the splendor and beauty is there. Much like a ball gown and covered in fine lace and satiny material, the dress of the Quinceañera makes her appear to float as if an angel upon a cloud.
The Quinceañera begins the celebration with a mass service (Misa de acción de gracias) where she is be accompanied by her full court, consisting of 14 damas, 14 chambelans, as well as her personal chambelan (escort) for the evening. During the mass, there are children who act to place the pillow she will kneel upon at the altar, sprinkle flowers in her path as she makes her way to the altar. At the end of the ceremony the children pass out bolos or small gifts to those who attended the mass as the Quinceañera places her bouquet upon the altar of the for the Virgin Maria.
A headpiece is worn during the Mass.
Her parents or Godparents exchange the headpiece with a tiara or crown and she is handed a scepter as well during the mass of thanksgiving. The headpiece symbolizes a princess before god and the scepter is used to symbolize the passing on of adult responsibilities and a sign of the corresponding authority. At the mass, the Quinceañera may be also gifted with a cross, a bible and a Rosario symbolizing her faith. The Quinceañera’s Cross or Medal is often given to Signify faith in God, in herself, and in the world.