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Origins of Quinceanera Essay

Quinceanera cerebrations history is mainly found in the Aztec and Mayan cultures of the Latin American people with the roots in the ancient Mexican society. A girl approaching her fifteenth birthday would be taken from her home to be prepared on how to transcend from girlhood to womanhood and marriage. During this time, she would be taught about her traditions and history as well as being given instructions and guidelines through which she would learn to be a responsible adult and a good wife in her community. By the time she was returning to her family, a great celebration was launched that marked her womanhood (sexual maturity) status.

The celebration is still held to this date in Latin and Hispanic families all over the world. However, the girls are no longer taken from their families but they rather get involved in group discussions and classes where they learn issues such as family, adulthood, and religion. In many cases, this goes on for a period of six months or even more as adopted by different communities around the world. Preparations for the major quinceanera celebrations often begin about two years before the actual date of the wonderful occasion.

The major purpose for the quinceanera is to act as a right of passage or social initiation that is intended to teach as well as reinforce the important and valuable cultural values of the community. These days, the ceremony is conducted to acknowledge the young girl’s rite of passage to womanhood. Since many societies that practice this ceremony have turned it into a religiously oriented activity, the ceremony acts as reaffirmation of the baptismal vows the parents made on behalf of their daughter(s). The ancient Mexican quinceanera is equivalent to the sweet sixteen in many United States societies.

At the age of fifteen, boys traditionally became warriors. This therefore necessitated the need for girls to be presented to their communities as a vital force of community’s future in the sense that their power to become mothers would ensure continued provision of more warriors for the tribe (http://kufflynx. com/historyofquinceanera. aspx) The history of quinceanera, unlike the sweet sixteen, has many religious components that make it more or less the same as the Bar Mitzvah which is held in the Jewish culture when their youth turn thirteen (Lankford, 1994, pp.

18). Before the celebrations commence, family members and guests accompany the quinceanera to a church service. The delivered sermon by the clergy is usually one whose main theme is the importance of growing up to be a responsible woman in the society. In the process, the young lady is given an opportunity to share her future hopes. Other family members and guests may also be allowed to speak too. After the service is over, people proceed to the party where under normal circumstances plenty of food, games, dance, and music take the order of the day.

Quinceanera parties usually require a lot of preparation and planning. It is as thus a very big occasion for the young woman and sometimes it takes many years of saving to make the girl’s fifteenth birthday dream a reality. Due to the value attached to this event, it is very common to have live bands, catered food, superb location reservations, and photo sessions. The quinceanera girl will often have a lavish gown and the guest of honor will sometimes have one as well. This makes the birthday as elaborate as a wedding.

The most crucial aspect of the quinceanera is invariably a thanksgiving Mass (Karen, 1996, pp. 76). Traditionally, the King conducted the girl’s exhortation, giving the relevant instructions related to the duties of the woman. In the Aztec tradition for example, if a woman died during child birth, she received funeral honors equivalent to the ones accorded a warrior who died in battle. During the whole session of the Mass, the girl remains specially seated at the altar’s foot.

When the Mass ends, bolos or commemorative favors are passed out by cousins, younger sisters and close friends to those who have attended, while the quinceanera girl deposits her bouquet in a niche or on the altar honoring the Virgin Mary (http://kufflynx. com/historyofquinceanera. aspx) There is a traditional provision that the quinceanera, depending on the economic strength of the parents and the godparents, can further the celebration opulence by opting between a journey to a fancy city and a party with live band music.

Today there is a general tendency of women from all social strata to opt for the later. Regardless of the magnitude of the opulence involved in the quinceanera celebrations, the highest goal of the event is to strengthen the social fabric and bonds that should remain firmly cemented not only among families but also at the societal level. This postulates the spirit of communal cohabitation, togetherness, and cohesiveness that must be maintained at all times. One uncertain thing is how far this norm is maintained in our “electronic” global community (Lankford, 1994, pp.

40). Learning from the importance that was, and to some extent is still associated to quinceanera or the sweet sixteen in most parts of the United States, we need to realize the significance of the social bonds that persist in our societies from ancient times to date. Beyond any reasonable doubts, there are certain stages and rights of passage that each one of us passes in life and which are given some form of communal responsibility, however little it may be compared to earlier times.

These include similarly shared social functions such as child birth, the first marriage, parental responsibility, and lastly the final stage which is death. These are considered in different perspectives in different cultural backgrounds but the truth of the matter is that they are present in all communities in the world. Furthermore, the quinceanera topic is significant in the sense that it portrays the gender differentials were and are still seen in our societies today. Not many years have passed since women stated involving themselves in the disciplines which were traditionally regarded as masculine oriented.

Examples of this can be found in cases where women were considered as child bearers and home keepers who were expected to be submissive to their husbands. In academic arenas, mathematics and science oriented subjects were gender-roles meant for men (Karen, 1996, pp. 45). The trend has fundamentally changed from women being submissive child-bearers, cookers, and weavers to equally productive citizens in the world. The political climate has also significantly changed since women engaged in politics.

Further lessons from the quinceanera topic advocate for personal growth and development. The major reason I postulate this is because by learning of our cultural heritage and social institutions we find ourselves in, one is able to critically reflect on what needs to be reinforced and what should be abolished from our systems. On example is the fact that in many Mexican communities, women are still regarded as second-class citizens, even with the known fact that they are the best family maintainers as compared to their male counterparts (Karen, 1996, pp. 64).

Some of these outdated opinions should be addressed with the most appropriate urgency if we are to claim of freedom from social segregations and inequalities. References: Karen Mary (1996). La Quinceanera: Making Gender and Ethnic Identities. Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, Vol. 16, pp. 45, 64, 76 Lankford, Mary D. (1994). Quinceanera: a Latina’s Journey into Womanhood. Brookfield, Connecticut: Millbrook Press, pp. 18, 40 The History and Meaning of Quinceanera.


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