A Quinceanera celebration is one that is typically held by those of Latin decent to celebrate the fifteenth birthday of a young woman. This type of celebration typically begins with mass or a religious gathering of worship and then is followed by a large party. This birthday is celebrated specifically because it represents a transition from childhood to womanhood. Following are a few traditions that grace the typical quinceanera celebration
Many quinceanera dresses are gowns that are formal enough to make the young woman being celebrated feel beautiful and special. Historically, these were white floor length gowns, but today, girls choose dresses of every color and style. Many of these dresses are purchased with an eye to one's personality. Some choose to purchase a short ruffled dress with many sequins to show that they have a fun loving character. Others may select a long stately dress to reflect the serious nature of taking the next step into life.
Anothertradition that quinceanera celebrations honor is the shoe ceremony. Historically, this was a time at which the father of the daughter being celebrated would give a first pair of high heeled shoes to her. Today, many girls wear high heels long before their 15th birthday, but the tradition is still carried out with the father carrying the shoes on a pillow and placing them on the feet of his daughter.
Some quinceanera ceremonies feature dolls as a main part of the event. This is to help represent leaving behind childhood things because the honored guest will be entering the adult world. Some families use the dolls as decorative center pieces on tables or in the theme of decorations. In other parties of this type, the quinceanera or 15 year old girl gets one last doll from her father. Some of these dolls are made of porcelain and have a custom made dress to match the one the girl is wearing. This doll is not meant to be played with, but is to be displayed as a memento of the celebration.
During a special quinceanera mass ceremony, often hosted at a church, the birthday girl may hand out 15 candles to people who have influenced her decisions in her life to this point. Sometimes the giving of candles is followed by a speech by those who received the candles. Each of the candles is said to represent each year of life the girl has finished.
A majority of these ceremonies feature a formal entry and introduction to the party. A toast may be performed in her behalf. Many girls spend the first dance of the evening with their father. When the father releases his daughter after the first dance, often with a whirl of the quinceanera dress, it represents the fact that he is, in essence, releasing her into womanhood.
Dress Colors and Styles
The traditional dress for this occasion was long and white, slightly resembling a wedding dress. Today, those celebrating a quinceanera opt for pastel colors in many ceremonies, and in a few ceremonies, bold reds and purple colors are worn.
The old adage says "you only live once." The same can be said about the 15 year old rite of passage in many Latin cultures. Make sure your search for the perfect dress leads you to memories that will last a lifetime.