What Is a Quinceanera?


Quick Answer

A quinceañera is a tradition celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries to commemorate a girl's 15th birthday. The term combines the Spanish words quince, which means 15, and años, which means years. In Latin American countries, it is tradition to have an extravagant party and a church ceremony for a girl's 15th birthday. The celebration is used to mark the girl's transition into womanhood.

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Full Answer

After the quinceañera, the girl is considered a woman and is ready to manage family and social responsibilities. The celebration is similar to a debutante ball or a “sweet 16” in American culture. During a quinceañera, the girl wears a decorative dress in a bold or pastel color. A major tradition of the quinceañera is the first dance with the father. Although certain traditions may vary, most celebrations include the young woman receiving a blessing from the church. There are also 14 female and male attendants known as chambelanes and damas. These attendants are used to represent the first 14 years of the girl’s life. During the quinceañera, to symbolize the transition from childhood to womanhood, the girl presents a porcelain doll to her younger sister. There is also a tradition, during the celebration, that requires the girl to change from flats to high-heels to symbolize womanhood.

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