In Latin culture, a girl’s coming of age happens at 15. The celebration is huge, think wedding huge. The Quinceñera (basically the birthday girl) wears a ball gown in any color she wants. Mine was white, but I’ve seen cheetah! There are NO RULES.
It’s such a huge event and has gotten so much more intense since I turned 15 in 1992. The have Quince Expos (yes, like Wedding expos), the have magazines dedicated to the event ( Quinceñera Magazine ), some have a religious blessing, you rent a hall, your have damas (ladies, think bridemaids), chambelanes (think groomsmen), photo, video, flowers… you get the picture. OH I almost forgot, the obligatory balles, dance numbers choreographed and sometimes using props- we had glow-in-the-dark hula hoops, top hat and canes and who knows what else!
I remember my “QUINCE” with fond memories. My parents do to. They probably also have fond memories of all the $$$ they spent. I think one time it may have slipped out and I heard 12K. YES, for a birthday party.
But not everyone has a quinceñera. IT’s expensive. and unless you budget for it, it’s not something you can throw together. I know girls that never wanted one. I know girls that just bought or rented an amazing gown and took professional photos. But even that costs some green. What about those that want and can’t. They’ve basically moved on with life but now Mexico City’s mayor, Miguel Angel Mancera, is doing something amazing!
This past Saturday a huge quinceñera ceremony was held, where over 300 teenage girls from all over the country, went to the capital to debut into society. Their dresses were donated, they toured the city via autobús, posed for photos in front of the Monument of the Angel of Independence and PAR-TAYED in the city’s central square, Zocalo.
The city’s mayor helps organize this yearly enormous quinceñera since 2007 to keep down the cost of individual ceremonies for disadvantaged families. The idea originally came from a few local girls who felt left out because their families couldn’t afford the typical extravaganza. Currently the city’s Youth Institute hosts the event and educated participants on their rights to quality education, environment and community. They have keynote speakers (like a girl who missed her quince because she was busy at home with her new baby)
Happy Birthday to all these beautiful Quinceñeras! Maybe I’ll try to get down there one year.