Quinceañera (Spanish pronunciation: [kinθeaˈɲeɾa]; feminine form of “fifteen-year-old”), also called fiesta de quince años, fiesta de quinceañera, quince años, quinceañero or simply quince, is a celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of people from Latin America. This birthday is celebrated differently from any other as it marks the transition, from childhood to young womanhood. Latin myths and tradition tell about how girls were prepared to be married by the age of fifteen or become nuns. In the years prior to their fifteenth birthdays, girls were taught to cook, weave, and about child bearing by the elder women in their communities in preparation for their expected lives as married women. The celebrations today vary significantly across countries; celebrations in some countries, for example, have taken on more religious overtones than in others.
My daughter and I were taking one of our weekly walks in the nearby park on this overcast, pre-snow day, when we spotted something bright and very orange-y in the distance on one of the pathways. At first I thought it was a wedding dress, but upon further reflection I realized it would be white, not salmon-colored so it must be, instead, a quinceanera dress. The group of people following this vision appeared to be young as we approached them, and that convinced me I was correct. The girl “attendants” (for lack of a more appropriate word) were dressed in silvery, ruffled, above-the-knee strapless dresses.
I’ve heard about them and read about them, but have never actually attended one. The Quinceanera is a celebration of a Hispanic girl’s fifteenth birthday and it is a very big occasion, not unlike some Sweet Sixteen celebrations, or even a wedding!
This small group of about twelve young people was delightful to watch as they strolled through the park seeking photo ops. The young men, dressed in black pants, crisp white shirts and fashionable gray suspenders were very impressive. But as we drew closer we could see how young they looked; like boys! The young women, on the other hand, had sophisticated hair-do’s and serious makeup, making them look at least 10 years older!
We watched them move throughout the park on their picture-taking quest like a flock of exotic birds, landing here and there to show off their fine plumage. Everyone looked happy and very cold, since they were not wearing coats of any kind even though it was a brisk, early Spring day. My only regret was that I did not have my camera to record authentic images of this event.
Soon they returned to the gleaming white stretch limo parked alongside the park and disappeared. Mission accomplished; on to the next adventure. Fun was the operative word for the day!
Ten minutes later, we ran into the same group at 7/11. No doubt stopping for hot chocolates!