Quinceanera -15yr- Traditional Dances
Marissa in Parker, Colorado USA
I recently had my quinceanera. A quinceanera is a coming of age ceremony, much like the American Sweet Sixteen, only for Hispanic girls when they turn 15. It is also a much bigger deal because it is very complex, some families starting to save up for their daughters when they are born.
The tradition dates back to ancient times when the natives of Mexico and South America would present their 15 year old females as women ready to marry or become priestesses. When the Spanish came over they mixed their Catholic religion and sophisticated dancing and balls with the native culture, thus creating the quinceanera. This brought on the custom of wearing lavish gowns of tulle, satin, etc. Most of these dresses a simply huge, with a hoop or stiff veil petticoat.
Quince, meaning 15, developed into quinceanera for this event-- referring both to the girl and the event. There are several parts in the whole of this event, starting with a Holy Mass in which your Court of Honor and parents accompany you. You do a prayer of dedication, renew your baptismal vows, and give an offering of fresh roses to the Virgin Mary/Guadeloupe, among the standard Catholic Mass. This means you are now a woman to God and your parish.
Afterwards, there is a large reception with a DJ in a hall or other big space. Your Court of Honor traditionally consists of fourteen couples and then you and your Chambelane de Honor make fifteen, each couple representing a year in your life. Nowadays this is a hard task to get so many people, half of whom are unfamiliar with the custom, to commit to standing up, pay for their fancy attire, and attend all dance practices. The Damas, or ladies, all wear the same dress, usually a color complimenting the quinceanera's dress.
The Chambelanes, or gentleman, rent tuxedos and wear ties or bow ties matching the damas' dresses. They practice the waltz, a presentation ceremony, and if desirable, another choreographed dance, for ex. in mine we did a merengue. Then we do the final show, usually with encore. There is also a father/daughter dance, and the changing of the shoes. You wear flat shoes until the party, when your father changes them to heels. Both of these symbolize that he accepts your transition to womanhood. You also give a porcelain doll to your younger sister, representing your last toy. Some girls don't have younger sisters, that being my case, so I gave mine to my youngest girl cousin, 3 yr.. old. Thee rest is all the fun.
The planning is forever, and it seems like it'll never really happen, but oh, it is worth it!!! I had a light pink dress like something out of a fairytale from Sweetheart gowns, and the dams had simply sweet dusty rose colored satin a-line gowns, and I am telling you, if you are a Hispanic girl and your 15th birthday is at least a year away this is a great thing!! You can get padrinos, godparents, to help you pay for everything, and even if you've never been to one and your family has never had one, try anyway!
It was the same for me and there are a lot of great websites about quinceaners on the Net and you will get all the info you could possibly want. Mine was more complicated because I had a double one with my cousin and it was all the way in Chicago, my hometown. I had the time of my life. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. It means a lot to be considered a woman by my family and friends and I am sure it will be for you to. Keep the fading tradition of quinceanera alive!!! "hoy, quires bailar mariposas.." Vals Mariposas, one of the traditional quinceanera dances.