All about quinceanera
Quinceanera literally means "one who is 15 years old," and it is an important rite of passage for girls of Hispanic heritage, traditionally marking the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It is celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world in North and South America, particularly in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Central America, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia. Hispanic communities in the United States have adopted the tradition as well.
A quinceanera celebration is roughly equivalent to a Sweet 16 party. For the occasion, the girl's family puts on a lavish celebration, marked by feasting, merriment and dancing.
Traditional Quinceanera Parties
A quinceanera party conforms to a number of traditions. One of the most important revolves around quinceanera dresses, which are opulent gowns that are typically made especially for the occasion. Quinceanera gowns may also be handed down through the generations of a family.
In bygone years, a girl's quinceanera party was the first time she wore makeup, though this particular tradition is no longer widely observed. Similarly, the girl's first public dance would be to quinceanera songs; while this too is no longer a requirement, dancing still plays an important role in the evening's festivities, which include:
- The entry of the guest of honor
- The toast (usually informal)
- The dances (with suitors, family and friends, then to the girl's favorite song)
- The ritual of the shoe -- the girl's father changes flat-soled shoes for high heels
Quinceanera decorations are typically lavish, and the event is usually held at a banquet hall rather than somebody's home. Following these rituals, the guests have dinner, after which the dancing continues. Some parties are followed by a family breakfast the next morning.
Given the importance of the event in the birthday girl's life, and the prominent place the quinceanera celebration holds in Hispanic culture, many specialized providers of quinceanera cakes and party supplies have popped up. These businesses can take care of every detail, from the quinceanera invitations to the dinner, decorations and banquet hall rental, taking the worry and stress off the girl's family and allowing everyone to enjoy the buildup to this once-in-a-lifetime event.