A coming of age celebration is deeply rooted in the importance of family and religion, but Quinceañera traditions aren’t just religious rituals. Think of it as the mixture of a religious Confirmation, a ‘Sweet Sixteen’ birthday party and a debutante ball, complete with family, friends, music, dancing, delicious food, and cake; together, it’s a party!
Just Like a Princess
The young lady celebrating her 15th or 16th birthday, depending on your cultural preference, is the ‘Princess’ and center of attention; she chooses for herself a court of 14 people to represent her life in years up to this point. The Court of Honor can be all young girls, known as Damas; boys, also called Chambeláns; a combination of both or paired couples.
Today is a day in her honor, dressed in a beautiful gown; her court complements her in matching gowns and tuxedos. Parents, godparents, and other close relatives present her with lavish or mature gifts. Mothers are blessed with changing her headdress to a tiara, while the god-parents often present her with a matching scepter; her father changes his little girl’s flat shoes to high heels as a symbol of her transition from child to woman. Presented with ‘The Last Doll’, each guest takes a ribbon with the young lady’s name as a memento of the occasion. If the Quinceañera has a younger sister, she may pass the last doll to her or treasure it herself.
Family, Friends, Music, and Dancing
The Quinceañera’s parents and godparents, along with her court, follow her in a procession to the front of her church where she renews her baptismal vows, committing herself spiritually and morally to God. She reads dedications to those in her life that have meant a great deal to her, or she can have those people talk about what she means to them.
Music and dance have a strong meaning in many cultures, but it plays an important role here as well. Often there are Mariachi bands, but there is always the first dance with the father and the choreographed waltz of the Quinceañera and her court. The song for the father-daughter dance has significant meaning for them; then he steps aside to allow her escort the next dance. The full court waltz takes a lot of practice, the routine for this traditional dance can require months to perfect; some hire professional dance instructors.
If you’re like most of us, parties and celebrations are elevated by the food; the Quinceañera traditionally serves all the best cultural and family favorites. In days past, entire neighborhoods would collectively prepare all the food, but there are so many things to plan and take care of that most events today are catered.
You’ll still find favorites like tamales, enchiladas, fajitas, mole dishes, beans, and rice. It’s easy to find a variety of pork, beef, chicken, and fish recipes to suit any taste, from appetizers to entrees. Don’t forget the cake; you can’t have a party without cake! Two of the most popular flavors are almond meringue and tres leches; another treat is a small cookie-like biscuit aptly called, “Bizcochitos”, and are great general party snacks.
Time Flies, Enjoy the Moment
The beauty of the Quinceañera tradition is how it celebrates the past, the present, and the future of the next generation of strong, beautiful women. Benito’s Authentic Mexican Food is available to the feed guests at your celebration in Fort Worth, leaving you to enjoy the delicious food, music, and dancing; sharing in memories that will last a lifetime. Remember that time continues to move us forward and celebrations like this help us to make the most of every moment.