14, March 2012
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...