I recently attended my friend’s daughters Quinceanera. It is the first Quinceanera I have been to since I was in the 8th grade (22 years ago). Back then, when I attended my friend’s Quinceanera, in my mind I compared it to the American birthday celebration: “The Sweet 16. ” I assumed it was the Latin version of the same sort, only celebrated at age 15 instead of 16. However, after attending a Quinceanera again, 22 years later I realized it culturally represents so much more than I had realized in the 8th grade. “Alina es mi major amiga. ” So naturally I helped her plan her oldest daughter’s Quinceanera.
This is how I became aware of the differences between the Latin Quinceanera and the American Sweet 16. Quinceanera’s are centered on traditions. One tradition is that the birthday girl wears a white dress to symbolize her purity. Another very sweet tradition is when the father slips off the daughters flat dress shoes and replaces them with high heels. This is a representation of a father’s acceptance that his daughter is no longer a child, but a woman. I was so taken by how symbolic this tradition is that I want to do the same at my daughters Sweet 16.
The Quinceanera is so important and cherished that family members sponsor parts of the fiesta to spread the cost around; a Sweet 16 is paid for by the 2 parents only. I learned so many things about the Latin culture while helping plan this Quinceanera. The family really bands together to make a girls Quinceanera the best it can be. The Quinceanera is truly a gesture of a girl blossoming into a woman; it is not just a birthday party with a fancy dress, food and music. The transformation of how a father looks at his daughter before and after the Quinceanera is the point of the whole celebration. She will be viewed as a woman, not a child.
A Sweet 16 is derived from the driving age of 16 and is not viewed as a transformation from childhood to womanhood. Also Sweet 16’s really don’t have any set traditions. I would definitely recommend other Spanish student to attend and or help plan a Quinceanera, I mean man WHAT A PARTY!!!! I truly enjoyed learning about the “coming of age” in Latin culture. It showed me the bond in Latin families and how they group together and pull their resources to keep with traditions that are rooted in their heritage; American families lack this in a way. This was a great experience and a really fun way to spend a Saturday.