Quinceañeras Look Like Brides – But They Aren’t
In addition to colorful blossoms, here in Texas you often see teenage girls in fancy ball gowns at your local parks. These young women are accompanied by friends and family, also in formal attire, and there’s usually a professional photographer in tow.
While, in some cases, you are witnessing an outdoor wedding, most of the time this festive group is strolling through nature as part of a Quince celebration.
Quinceañera Comes from Ancient South American Puberty Rites
A Quince celebration is a coming of age party for a 15-year-old girl. Quince means, “15” in Spanish, which is why the debutante is referred to as a Quinceañera. The tradition can be traced back to ancient Aztecan puberty rites.
Of course, like anything that’s been around for centuries, the practice has changed over time. These days, it’s primarily practiced by Hispanic Catholics, and is both a social as well as a religious event.
Traditionally, a Quinceañera will have 14 damas (female attendants, rather like bridesmaids) and 14 chambelanes (male escorts.) In addition, the Quinceañera will have a, “man of honor,” to accompany her.
The celebration begins at a Catholic church with a special mass for the Quinceañera. Afterwards, the girl and her family will head to a park for photos and either have a picnic there, or meet elsewhere for a reception.
The Last Doll & Other Quince Traditions
Other traditional elements may include a bouquet for the Quinceañera to symbolize her new life as well as a ring, a religious medal, and/or a tiara. Another item that is often included in a Quince ritual is the ultima muneca, or, “last doll.” After her parents give the Quinceañera her ultima muneca, she then passes the toy along to a younger sister or cousin to symbolize that as she comes of age, she is leaving behind childish things and moving into adulthood.
Like a wedding, how traditional, fancy and/or formal the event becomes is a choice that the family makes.
More A to Z blog posts
This Quinceañera photo essay and brief overview of the Quince celebration was my post for the letter Q of the A to Z blogging challenge. Tune in tomorrow to see what quirky Texan thing the letter R will bring!
In the meantime, click on this link to find out what other A to Z blogging challenge folks are writing about.