About the Wonderful World of the Quinceañera

Posted: Jul 08 2014

-By Barbara Alvarez

Oh, she’s about to turn 15 and she’s such a beautiful little lady! You and your spouse, along with your hermanas y hermanos, have been planning her quinceanera celebration. The Mass and the reception and dance. You found the perfect dress, bouquet and tiara. The tuxedos for the Chambelan have been picked. Your daughter has picked her court and, now the big day is just about here ...

About the Quinceanera

This coming-of-age ceremony for a young woman reaching the age of 15 (quince anos) blends family, social responsibility and religious traditions. You’ve heard of the Sweet Sixteen party for a girl who is turning 16. The quinceanera is for the girl turning 15 and marks her passage from childhood to womanhood. With the help of God, her family, friends and the parish priest, she celebrates this momentous day with a special Mass, reception, delicious food and a dance.

It’s not only significant to the Mexican culture. Look for the quinceanera in Cuban, Central and South American and Puerto Rican cultures. No matter the culture, the intent and significance of the celebration is the same.

Traditional Gifts for the Quince

Before and during the Mass and reception, the quince receives several traditional gifts. First, she is given a tiara. She has to wear this during the Mass and reception and dance because it symbolizes that she has become a young woman. Next, she is given earrings and a bracelet or a ring. These pieces of jewelry mark her passage into womanhood.

To help her celebrate the religious significance of her special day, the quince receives a cross, religious medal or necklace. She also receives a Bible, rosary and a prayer book, to help guide her on her journey of faith.

Special Accessories or Symbols

Family members and friends can also gift the quince with the following gifts:

º Flower bouquet, which she carries during the Mass, reception and dance

º A quinceanera doll, which symbolizes the event and its perfection

º Cake decoration

º An engraved cake serving set, which she can use when she moves out of her papi’s house and into a house of her own with her husband

º Engraved champagne glasses that mark this special occasion

º A scepter

º A guest registry book for the quinceanera celebration. She’ll have many happy memories of “her day”

º A Quinceanera photo album, which helps her remember her day in photos

º Invitations and reception cards – she sends these out to guests

º Quinceanera gift pillows. She uses the larger pillow to kneel at the altar the the smaller pillows hold her gifts

Her Court

Fourteen young ladies (one to mark each year of her life) called Damas and 14 young men, called Chambelan, Galan or Escorte, make up her Court. The quince and her family give small gifts to the members of the Court. These gifts might be ceramicas or capias (small ribbons), which help members of the Court to commemorate this special occasion.

Some quinces may take their Quince dolls, to which small tokens have been pinned, circulates among her guests, inviting them to take a token, thanking them for being present for her special day.

At the end of the day, she goes home, exhausted, but with the knowledge she is now a young woman.

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