Guest Author - April Alisa Marquette
Concurring with a Latina girl's fifteenth birthday, la fiesta quinceanera is a rite of passage that heralds her arrival into womanhood. Witnessed by family, friends, and neighbors this esteemed tradition is believed to have Aztec origins, although it mirrors ancient rituals held throughout the world. Traditionally, at the age of fifteen, quince, many girls entered the corridor that led to new and different responsibilities, some being the duties of wives and mothers. Thus, tradition says the emerging young woman was to be treated with a new respect. Yes, following her presentation to society by the chambelan de honor, the designated person who usually also gave her the ultima muneca the last doll.
Now days, this initiation ceremony often takes place in communities that treasure familial and ethnic bonds. However, this time honored tradition -- a sign of respect for the Latino culture -- slowly happens to be changing. Evidence of this is seen in the different kinds of celebrations that are being chosen. Unique in her own right, each young woman can, and often does, choose to celebrate in a way that reflects who she is as an individual. Nowhere is this more readily seen than in cases where a Barbie Quinceanera doll is asked for, instead of the traditional handmade ultima muneca, the last doll.
Below I've listed just a few ways that young Latinas are also opting to celebrate:
The Traditional Quinceanera - is not just a party; while planning this celebration of the transition into womanhood abuelitas and mothers are included. Aspects of faith are incorporated, some as set forth by the Catholic Church. Often a celebrant will choose to carry a parasol, wear a tiara, or a regal dress. The celebrant may traditionally also surrender a doll from her childhood, to indicate she no longer needs it. An elegant photo will later sit pride of place in the family home. The bolero dance with dad, the damas and chambelanes (the celebrant's girlfriends and their escorts), and the serving of a delicious dinner can also be in order.
Today's Quinceanera - This modern type of celebration depends on the young woman and her preference(s). It can either be a fiesta with family and friends at an outdoor site, with food and music, or it can be held at home, with upmarket catering, or the traditional tasty home cooked meal. This type of celebration may even be held at an impressive restaurant where the celebrant appears, wearing a lovely corsage in addition to her other finery. Instead of the traditional gifts of jewelry or a quince crown, guests may offer monetary gifts, toward a college or other fund of the celebrant and her family's choosing.
The Audacious Quinceanera - Sure, some will ask the equivalent of: 'can you believe the audacity -- the nerve of her?' But it is her celebration, her transition from girl into woman. Therefore should she choose to take a lovely trip with her friends why not? Perhaps they will go with her and her family to visit universities so that she might aptly select the one she'll attend. Or as many Latina-Americans now choose -- like their 'sweet sixteen' counterparts -- perhaps your emerging ethnic beauty will choose a spa day, a pampered hotel stay, a cruise, or to visit a lovely vacation spot.
However, a young Latina decides to celebrate her 15th birthday, remember la fiesta quinceanera the time honored tradition is her rite of passage, her one chance to commemorate a most important year.
If this is your year, your daughter's year, or that of someone you know; here's wishing you or her every good thing!