Quinceañera

 

History

According to CNN Latino in America and Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie of Bella Online, the birth of this tradition dates back to 500 B.C. with the Aztecs–who performed rites of passage for young girls and boys becoming men and women at the age of 15. Young women were deemed old enough to marry and bear children at this age. When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs in 1500’s, the Aztec culture and Catholic religion of the Spanish merged, rooting the Quinceañera ceremony in faith, family values and celebration of the young woman’s maturity.

The Dress

Traditionally the young woman celebrating her Quinceañera is dressed in an all white gown similar to a wedding dress, but without a train. According to Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie of Bella Online, the white dress symbolizes the young woman’s purity. It also gives a distinction from the other women in attendance at her Quinceañera.

The Full Court

The Quinceañera celebration includes 14 ladies, 14 male escorts and a personal male escort for the young woman turning 15. The number of couples is a representation of the

age being celebrated. These individuals are usually friends and family of the young woman and are around the same age. Their function is similar to that of a wedding party with bridesmaids and groomsmen, but for the Quinceañera they are considered a full court for the queen of the day and precede her entrance for both the mass and the celebration to follow.

Mass Service

The day of the Quinceañera begins with a morning mass service. This tradition honors the Catholic religion deeply rooted in the Hispanic people. At the mass quite a few exchanges occur symbolizing the young woman’s dedication to her faith and her promise to uphold the religious and family values as she becomes a woman.

The Quinceañera lays the bouquet she held during her procession walk at the alter as a sign of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary. Her parents exchange the cloth or flower headpiece she walked in with for a tiara and hand her a scepter representing her transition, responsibilities and authority as a woman. Earrings are gift to remind her to listen to God. A cross, bible and rosary are gifted to the Quinceañera to remind her to stay dedicated to her faith.

Celebration

During the celebration it is tradition for the Quinceañera to walk into her celebration with flat shoes. Her father will exchange the flat shoes for high heel shoes and they will proceed into a father daughter waltz. The exchange of shoes and the respected stance the father takes with his daughter in the waltz symbolizes her father’s respect for his daughter who has entered into womanhood. He will from that point treat her as a woman and no longer a little girl. After the dance with her father, he then hands her over for a dance with her escort. This is also a symbol of the father’s recognition of his daughter’s maturity.

For more information, please follow this link: Quinceañera

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