Kuinceaner's Planning Guide: Embracing Centuries of Cultural and Family Importance

La fiesta of the Kuinceanera is a Latin rite for girls who are 15 years old. Kuinceanera literally means "the one who is 15" and the only word has become the whole birthday celebration, which the current generation simply calls "quince"It's a ceremony full of meaning when a young girl symbolically escorts family and community to womanhood. Custom and ritual reconnect ethnic, religious and family ties. This planning guide reveals its major elements and shows how Latina celebrations vary across countries, and some The ceremony as we know it today in the United States is based on the Mexican version that became popular in the 1930s, and continues to be popular in communities where is far from a static event but changes dynamically with time.

This special birthday celebration has its roots in the Aztec culture and the characteristics of that culture play the essence of the modern ceremony. The Aztecs date from about 500 B.C. originated in the United States where present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado meet. In the late twelfth century, they began to move south where they reached modern-day Mexico and became a prominent culture there by the end of the fifteenth century. Family was a major aspect of Aztec life and the girls taught their mothers the household and raising children, and at about sixteen, the girl was introduced to the community as ready for marriage. Religion was central to the Aztec people because they worshiped hundreds of gods and goddesses, representing various aspects of life. In their religious ceremonies, music occupied an important place as they played flutes, drums and rattles with chants to worship their gods. In addition, clothing was an important part of both the Aztec religion and daily life. Thus, family, faith, celebration and uniform defined the life of the Aztecs.

Combine these Aztec cultural elements with traditions around the world to celebrate the transition from childhood stages of adolescence to adulthood. While in the old days girls were raised in social graces and local skills, by age 15 or 16, they were solemnly presented to their community as young women ready for marriage and ready for childbirth. Today, in Latin American culture, 15 years was chosen to symbolize the beginning of a girl's life as a young adult, the opportunity to learn about culture, tradition and religion through high school, high school, and for some, planning for college or a career. There are privileges and responsibilities for her to look forward to, such as driving, managing money, working, training, and even legal drinking. This is the central point where things change with respect to relationships with family, friends and social institutions.

Latina enters the Kuinceaner event as a child and appears as a young woman. It sets him the path that he will embark on as an adult. Those who know her treat her differently from that day. As a symbol of growing up, the ceremony represents a change in relationships with parents and friends. The teenage girl will begin to take on the responsibilities her parents assumed during her first 15 years. He may start managing his money, doing more chores around the clock, doing medical appointments, and managing time for homework, chores, and play. Peer friendships may change because a 15-year-old girl may see more friends less often than in high school, but her interests are reinforced by how close friends influence and support her decisions about church, business, sports and social activities. This phase of life develops with important decisions about what interests her in choosing her life path. They will likely spend their free time focusing on one sport, one talent or hobby or preparation for one profession, one choice for career training or applying for college. In any case, a 15-year-old girl will start spending more time away from home and with her family structure, ready to create her own journey and family.

The history of Mexico again influenced the evolution of the Kuinceaner celebration when the Spanish conquered Mexico in 1521 and mixed the Catholic religious tradition with the traditions of Aztec and Mayan life ceremonies. Shortly thereafter, the birthday event included a Thanksgiving Mass during which the young girl upheld the baptismal vows her parents gave her and affirmed her Catholic faith and her choice to commit to marriage or church. The ceremony would have taken place at a community gathering place had there not been a Church for Mass.

In the old days, when dresses did not exist, a 15-year-old girl would still be dressed in a way that would set her apart from everyone else at the ceremony. Clothing has gained prominence and today's Kuinceaner celebrations begin with girls preparing makeup, hairstyles and manicures. The birthday girl dresses up in a festive evening gown for mass and the next fiesta. In the past, the dress was pink, but in recent decades white has been a choice to symbolize purity. Decorative embellishments, such as embroidery, sequins, pearls and lace, can embellish a style of dress that reflects current trends and the girl's fashion sense.

Like many personal celebrations, the birthday girl's individual preferences and social background and family status affect the extent of the 15th birthday celebration. But there are some aspects that are common to most of them:

Mass celebration:

  • A young woman will arrive at her parish church, probably in a limousine, accompanied by her parents, godparents and a court of honor who have been chosen girls and boys, respectively known as "damas" i "chambelanes" (ladies and cameramen). Typically, there are 14 or 7 pairs.
  • A little girl will stroll down the hall of the church with her orchestra to stay at the altar during Mass.
  • The music will accompany the Mass and all parts of the Church's birthday ceremony.
  • At the ceremony, the priest blessed a rosary, a bible, a prayer book, or a cross or necklace with a laundry or pendant depicting the Virgin Mary of Guadeloupe, and was presented to her teens by a godfather. Other gifts that are given at the ceremony or given to the girl to wear may include a scepter, bracelet, ring or earrings.
  • Two ceremonies paired in a church can include "Changing Shoes" and "Tiara Crowning." Two children were selected to join the girl's entourage in the procession down the aisle. The boy wears a pillow with shoes and the girl wears a heart-shaped pillow. At some point, chosen around the celebration of the Mass, the father removes his daughter's shoes from the flats in which she reached the high heels in which she would go. Then the mother places the tiara on the head of her daughter. These ceremonies play a big role in transforming a little girl from girl to young woman in the eyes of the community. Tiara also reminds everyone that a girl will always be a princess before God and the world.
  • At the end of the Mass, the birthday girl will place her bouquet on the altar in honor of the Virgin Mary, and members of her family will share presents with those present.

After Mass, guests gather for a fiesta or at a reception where other special birthday events take place. The reception includes dinner and dancing and can be held at the girl's house, in the event room at the hotel or restaurant, at the casino, or sometimes it can be a block party. Music is a big part of life in the history of Spanish, Aztec and May. Everyone would dance, sing and sing prayers with music, which is a joyous backdrop for the birthday celebration. Today's Kuinceaner event includes live music and / or DJ and recorded music. With that in mind, a birthday celebration can be planned with the choreographer or at least, the dances and program are practiced weeks or months in advance. The party program will include most of the following:

  • The grand entrance of the birthday girl and her companionship occurs when most of the guests sit or gather at a party venue.
  • The optional formal toast, which parents or godparents usually make to a birthday girl, can take place upon arrival or later, after dinner and when the cake is cut and served as a dessert.
  • The first dance is a father-daughter waltz.
  • If giving a crown or tiara to a girl was not part of the ceremony at Mass, then, at the end of the father-daughter dance, the mother dances with her daughter as they handle the chair or "throne" in a special way. Tiara's mother is put on her head by her mother's birthday, while the girl sits on a "throne".
  • If the change of shoes is not made as part of a church ceremony, the father comes to the girl who gave birth to the seat after her mother crowned her with a tiara. The father takes off her daughter's sandals, shoes or low-heeled shoes and puts on her high heels, symbolizing the girl's transition to adulthood. Then the father takes his "princess" daughter to dance again and the fun goes on.
  • The birthday girl waltzes with her "Chambelan de Honor " (Chamberlain of Honor, or Chief Household Officer), who is her chosen companion and part of the court of honor.
  • There is a family dance, which is usually a waltz involving all the close-knit girls, godparents, closest friends, "ladies" (ladies) and "kambeli" (chamberlains or household servants).
  • The birthday girl song is played and danced by the girl along with her orchestra. Today, it can be any modern song.
  • A general dance is announced and there is usually a waltz where everyone, young and old, is asked to play.
  • Optional "La Ultima Muneca" (Last Doll) Ceremony takes place. It is based on the ancient Mayan tradition. The Chambelan de honor is set to introduce the girl to society at the party, and she will also give her the theult muneca. The birthday girl will dance to a doll that relates to the last toy in her life because, after this special birthday event, the girl is now approaching adult life and eventually marriage. Traditionally, the doll was handmade, but in recent years it has been a Barbie doll, and some used in the ceremony are made of ceramics or porcelain and are hand painted. These more elegant dolls are often sought after as collectibles.
  • Another option is 15 candle ceremonies. It is an opportunity for the birthday girl to thank 15 of those who helped her develop and grow by giving a candle to everyone as she explains their impact and appreciation. This touching tribute is also known as the tree of life ritual.
  • Dinner courses can be accommodated throughout the program of dances and ceremonies or, after completion of the entire program, dinner can be served. Music is played as guests dine, socialize and dance.
  • Breakfast is served the next morning for family and closest friends, especially since some of them are staying with family. That could be it recalentado (reheating) food that is not consumed the night before and reheated for a meal.

What is best determined by the Mexican Birthday Festival has been developed by some differences in other Latin American and South American countries. Many celebrations are similar, but do not cover all the ceremonies of a girl's 15th birthday as a Catholic Mass, because in fact most – but not all – are Hispanic.

In Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, where the celebration is called a fiesta de kuince, the fun is divided into segments around serving different dinner courses. The program may include playing videos of earlier segments of the party, a ceremony with 15 candles and ending with a cake cutting ceremony where each guest pulls a ribbon from the crowd. Each strap has a charm attached, and one has a special prize ring. The party ends with a carnival-style festive dance.

In the Dominican Republic, a birthday girl usually wears a long dress of bright color, while other young ladies in her neighborhood also wear brightly colored dresses, and young men wear colorful ties with their dark suits or suits. It is common for a birthday girl and couples to accompany them to perform several choreographic dances, which may include rhythms such as merengue, pop and salsa. One of the main attractions of the Dominican Republic is the traditional quince a cake of huge size and beautifully designed with very colorful decorations.

In Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, after the first dance, the choreography begins with a dance performance by the birthday girl and her friends. After that, the music is performed by live bands, famous guest artist, DJs, food and drinks. The "crazy clock" starts late at night. Party attendees put on masks and fun wigs. They whistle and whistle while the fast-paced music plays loudly. Optionally, the birthday girl can do the final surprise dance, alone or accompanied.

In Cuba, 15th birthday celebrations were very popular until the late 1970s. Unlike most Mexican and Latin American Kuinceaner events, tradition has partly entered Cuba through Spanish and French influence. Rich families would rent expensive dining rooms and private clubs to host a birthday party, which they call quince. The entertainment would usually include a choreographed group dance in which 14 couples waltz around a birthday girl accompanied by one of the main dancers.

In Brazil and in Portuguese, she is called a little girl on her 15th birthday "festa de debitantes" or "debut party," and in Peru, the event has become less popular with teens who find it old-fashioned and too expensive for their parents.


In the United States, Latinas continue to magnify Kuinceaner celebrations, whether their fathers are well-disposed businessmen and lawyers, or taxi drivers and construction workers. Latinas and their families raise tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for dinner, drinks, parties, dresses, jewelry, limos, gifts, DJs, bands, musicians, choreographers, videographers and photographers. Padrinos (patrons, godparents), who are family and friends, are asked to pay for the birthday festivities. They become "numero uno" in the planning process, at least as far as parents are concerned. Websites like "My Favorite Quince" guide the birthday girl and her parents about who to ask to be Padrinos. Fortunately, the barter system is also welcome, so some families change and exchange services. Instead of raising money, they will find limousine services, rental halls, bakeries, food and beverage services to participate among their middle class colleagues and friends. Still, for Latinos and the poor middle class, the question is how many of them can develop false expectations that the future holds supplies of Padrinos willing to make tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands during their education, wedding, new home, new car, and its guaranteed pink future.

However, just as in the fifth century B.C. until the sixteenth century A.D., when the Aztec girls arrived at fifteen, the urge to celebrate the Kuinceaner was alive and well and is a family day of happiness and memories that are cherished forever. It is a cherished tradition of an old age that has wrapped itself in the Catholic faith, its beliefs and ancient rites. As the girl steps out of the protective family unit and approaches the world of work to create her own life and family, her intricate birthday celebration can open up a conversation about how relationships and people change. Dealing with life stages can provide insecure parents a way to embrace change instead of fear, and a special birthday ritual that focuses on both the joy of childhood and the transition to adulthood can satisfy both parents and the birthday girl.

Despite the fusion of rabid commercialism with Catholic and cultural rituals, Latinos of many social classes embrace their 15th birthday celebration, enter adolescent adolescence, and embark on an adult arrival with cultural roots dating back centuries and find their place in family and religion. While social studies points to the breakdown of traditional family life in a world of cultural change, in whatever form it takes, Kuinceanera is a very special event that only happens once in a girl's life. It is a time to rejoice in life's wonder and to affirm a commitment to family, friends, tradition and community.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth McMillian