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La quinceañera ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
What is it? The word quinceañera comes from two Spanish words:quince meaning fifteen and años meaning years. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
English-Speaking EquivalentsSweet Sixteen (16) Bar or Bat Mitzvah (13) Cotillion Debutante Ball (18) The closest equivalents to the quinceañera in the English-speaking world are the sweet sixteen, Bar or Bat Mitzvah for Jewish children turning 13, cotillion, or in more affluent communities, the debutante ball for those who turn 18. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
A Celebration ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryLa quinceañera is the fifteen-year-old girl who is celebrating her birthday. The party is a celebration full of traditions and customs. The tradition of the fifteen-year-old girl transitioning to adulthood dates back to 1521, when the Spanish and Aztec cultures converged. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
History Sweet fifteen The Mayans Spanish conquistadors CeremoniesThe quinceañera’s birthday party is a celebration of a Hispanic girl’s “Sweet 15” birthday. It is similar to the American tradition of celebrating a “Sweet 16” birthday. It marks the transition of a young girl’s journey from childhood to womanhood and the acceptance of the new responsibilities it brings. There are several ideas as to the origin of this celebration. The tribes of Meso-America – the Mayas and Toltecs – celebrated the rites of passage into adulthood for their men and women. Rites of passage also existed in the Iberian peninsula, so the Spanish conquistadors may have brought this practice to Meso-America. The Christian missionaries would have approved this practice as these rites were similar to the Christian practices of initiation and marriage. It is a celebration full of tradition and ceremonies that have been practiced for centuries. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Today Religious tradition in Mexico and Latin AmericaA time to reflect on childhood blessings Welcomes the approaching challenges of adulthood Today the quinceañera’s birthday party is still part of the religious tradition in Mexico and Latin America. A young woman uses this celebration to reflect on the blessings of her childhood and the challenges that she will face as a grown-up. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Latin America Mexico Cuba Puerto Rico Latin AmericaThe celebration of a quinceañera’s birthday has been popular for many years in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the countries of Latin America. Today, because so many of these people have immigrated to the United States, many U.S. communities are familiar with this event. The way it is celebrated may vary from one cultural group to another, but all share some of the same elements. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
What is the purpose of the celebration?Beginning of womanhood New responsibilities Faith, good morals Devotion to community The quinceañera’s birthday party is a special celebration that marks the beginning of womanhood. New responsibilities are placed upon the young woman such as household duties, work and family needs. The main purpose of this celebration is for a young woman to live a life of faith, good morals and principles, and devotion to the community. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Coordination Family and friends’ effort Padrinos – godparentsMadrina – godmother Padrino – godfather The entire quinceañera’s celebration is a teamwork of effort on the part of the entire family. It is customary that family, friends and relatives will volunteer to be padrinos or sponsors. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Los padrinos Godparents Support Advice ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryOne of the first undertakings of the celebration is to choose her padrinos. These are two individuals who will have the honor of being her godparents. These do not necessarily have to be the same godparents that were chosen by her parents at her baptism. These individuals are chosen by the quinceañera to help with the arrangements and hosting of the event. In addition to being available during the celebration, they will give her support and advice in the future as she becomes a young adult. They will participate in the day’s events and will present the quinceañera with special gifts. Each padrino takes financial and/or moral responsibility over what they have been assigned including the cake, invitations, dress, bible, rosary, etc. In addition to the padrinos, the quinceañera will choose sponsors to help with the event in different ways. One may be chosen to sponsor the cake and another to sponsor the flowers, and so on. (Click to start the video.) ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Location Church - Mass Church hall Banquet hallThe celebration usually begins at church with the celebration of Mass. Afterwards, a dinner and dance celebration is held in the church hall or a banquet hall. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Dress The quinceañera arrives in a fancy full-length dress.The quinceañera arrives wearing a dress similar to a wedding dress with a few differences. The traditional dress is white with a bell-shaped floor length skirt; but this dress, unlike a wedding dress, does not have a train. The dress in some Hispanic communities can be any pastel color. The dress is often a gift from her godmother, or the madrina. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Court 7 damas 7 chambelanes 7 + 7 + 1 quinceañera = 15The quinceañera chooses 7 girls, called damas, and 7 boys, called chambelanes, to be in her court. They are relatives or close friends. Each one of them represents a year of the honoree’s life with the 15th year represented by the quinceañera herself. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Attire for the Court ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryThe damas dress in long similar dresses chosen by the quinceañera. The chambelanes wear traditional black suits or tuxedos. One of the chambelanes is chosen to be her escort and will wear a white or black tuxedo. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Preparation Arranged according to height Rehearsals Dance routinesWaltz – vals in Spanish After the attire for the court has been chosen, the couples are matched according to height. The court starts meeting on a regular basis to prepare for the celebration. Rehearsals are held to practice dance routines. One of the dance routines is the Waltz, called a vals that is traditionally performed at the reception. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Religion Classes Relationship with GodAccepted in the Church as an adult In some communities, the quinceañera is required to take religion classes. The classes focuses on her relationship with God and her Catholic community. These classes help her realize that the quinceañera’s celebration is not just one big birthday party, but also a celebration of being accepted into the Catholic Church as an adult. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Mass Misa de acción de gracias Reaffirms values and beliefsParish recognizes the young woman as an adult in the eyes of the parish The celebration usually begins with everyone attending a Mass called the Misa de acción de gracias. This is a time for the quinceañera girl to reaffirm her values and beliefs in regards to faith, family, and her community. The Mass is also a time for the parish to recognize the young woman as an adult in the eyes of the church. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Faith Baptismal vows Mass of thanksgiving to patron saintCelebrated on Saturday At the church, everyone participates in a special Mass where the quinceañera renews her Baptismal vows in the presence of God. Her parents offer this Mass of thanksgiving in honor of their daughter’s patron saint. In old times, the Mass was performed on Sunday since this is the Christian Sabbath, but today, for convenience sake, most quinceañera’s celebrations are held on Saturday. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Blessing The blessing El cojín – kneeling pillow Flowers –La Biblia The quinceañera kneels before the priest who blesses her and introduces her to the church as an adult. She will use a special pillow called a cojín or kneeling pillow. The girl then places a bouquet of flowers, her rosary and Bible at the base of the Virgin Mary. The quinceañera prays to the Mother of God to thank her for being a role model and to guide her in life as a woman. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Gifts The quinceañera receives: A tiara A scepter A ring EarringsA medal A Bible During the Mass, which is filled with symbolism, the girl receives a tiara, a ring, a cross or medal, earrings and flowers. These are usually gifts from her parents or godparents. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Tiara – La diadema Princess Triumph over childhoodFaces challenges The quinceañera wears a tiara that symbolizes that she is a “princess” before God and the world. It also signifies a triumph over childhood and her ability to face the challenges that are ahead. The girl’s mother or godmother places the tiara on her head. This is a tribute to an ancient custom where the quinceañera girl was established as an official princess within her family and a young woman in her society. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Scepter – El cetro Authority and responsibilityGiven during introduction The scepter, or el cetro is a symbol of authority and responsibility that will be given to the quinceañera. This is usually done at the same time she is given her tiara. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Ring - El anillo Never-ending circle of lifeThe ring worn by the quinceañera represents the never-ending circle of life. It symbolizes the unending stage of womanhood and her talents and future contributions. Never-ending circle of life ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Earrings - Los aretesThe earrings are a reminder to listen to the word of God and the world. The quinceañera is to always hear and respond to the world around her. Listen to the word of God Hear and respond to the world ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Medal – La medalla The cross or medal symbolizes her religious expression of faith. The quinceañera is placed under the protection of the saint represented by the image on the medal. Signifies faith in God, in herself, and in the world ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Bible – La Biblia The Bible represents important resources to keep the word of God in her life. The Bible, prayer book, and rosary represent important resources to keep the word of God in her life. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Flowers – Las flores The Bouquet – El ramoRepresents new commitment The quinceañera carries a bouquet, or el ramo. The flowers represent the new commitment she makes to assume responsibility in her community. Today, some girls are choosing to carry artificial bouquets. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
After the Mass The recessional Photos Time to eatThe quinceañera walks out of the church with her escort instead of her father. The court follows, followed by her parents and godparents. Afterwards, there is a photo session and then it is time to eat. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Grand Entrance ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryThe 14 damas and chambelanes line up first and are followed by the honoree’s escort and her mother, the godparents, and finally the quinceañera and her father. The court enters first down the aisle to the altar where the couples divide. The damas kneel on the left side and the chambelanes on the right. The quinceañera is at the center of her court and everyone's attention. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The little details! ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryThe hall is usually decorated the night before by the quinceañera and her family or by the hotel. At dinner, the guests present their gifts and good wishes to the quinceañera. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Master of Ceremonies Court Godparents Parents QuinceañeraThe Master of Ceremonies begins by introducing the damas and chambelanes, followed by the godparents and the parents. They form two lines as the quinceañera and her escort make their entrance onto the dance floor. When her name is announced, she makes her social debut. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Last Doll – La última muñecaDuring the reception, a special time is set aside to present the quinceañera with her última muñeca, or last doll. Her godparents and parents are called up to the center of the dance floor to present this very special doll. Often, after the presentation, the father of the quinceañera will dance with his daughter and the doll. The doll symbolizes the end of her childhood and her transition into adulthood. This doll is very special and is often made of porcelain. It is dressed to look like the quinceañera. It becomes a special lifelong keepsake. In some communities at midnight, the quinceañera will give the doll to her younger sister. If there is no sister, it goes to another young girl in the extended family. Whoever receives the doll will then go through the same ritual in her quinceañera resulting in the doll being handed down through several generations. Last doll Symbolizes the end of childhood ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The heeled shoes – Los zapatos de tacónLos zapatos de tacón means high-heeled shoes First pair of heels Step out into world as a woman After the presentation of the doll, the mother of the quinceañera proceeds to the dance floor holding a pair of high-heeled shoes or zapatos de tacón on a satin pillow. The quinceañera who has been wearing flat shoes all day takes a seat and her father exchanges her flats for her first pair of high-heeled shoes. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
After the changing of the shoes, the quinceañeraThe Waltz – El vals After the quinceañera has changed her shoes, she takes the hand of her escort and they dance a traditional Waltz along with her court. During this Waltz, the chambelán hands the quinceañera to her father for part of the Waltz and the escort dances with her mother. The father then escorts the quinceañera to her godfather who after a short dance, gives her back to her chambelán. It is thought that this tradition may be part of the cultural changes in Mexico between 1864 and During this time Maximilian and his wife, Carlota, were emperor and empress of Mexico. Influences of European culture became very popular and people danced the Waltz to European-styled orchestras. After the changing of the shoes, the quinceañera dances a special Waltz. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Choreography ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryNowadays, after the Waltz, many quinceañeras perform a specially choreographed modern dance. This a video taken at an actual celebration. Jessica and her father share a dance with her chosen court. (Click video screen to start the clip.) ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
As part of the celebration, there is an elaborately decorated cake.The Cake – El pastel The cake is a special birthday cake provided by one of the quinceañera’s many sponsors. It is several layers tall and may be topped with a small quinceañera doll or decorated with flowers. As part of the celebration, there is an elaborately decorated cake. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
The Memento - Los recuerdosAt the end of the evening, each guest is given a momento or recuerdo, which is a small gift in honor of the quinceañera. (Click to start the video.) A memento or small gift ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Cultural Differences There are some cultural differences in the celebration of the quinceañera’s birthday throughout the Spanish-speaking world. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Puerto Rico Religious ceremony Peacock chair covered with flowersIn Puerto Rico, the quinceañera is accompanied by her relatives and friends. At the religious ceremony, the girl traditionally sits in a peacock chair covered in flowers. After the ceremony, there is a party. There must be 14 boys and girls with her. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Cuba Wealthy Lower-income ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryIn Cuba, the wealthy families rent luxurious halls and hire choreographers. Lower-income families’ celebrations take place in the home of the quinceañera. In Cuba, the quinceañera is often considered to be one of the most important days of a young woman’s life because it officially marks the transition from child to adult. Usually the quinceañera wears a big, pastel-colored dress. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Dominican Republic Formal dress Choreographed dancesLike Cuba, this day is one that spares no cost. Guests arrive in formal dress at a rented hall to introduce the quinceañera to society. Friends and relatives are chosen to participate in a choreographed dance to Latin music. Frequently, pictures of the event will appear in the next day’s newspaper. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
El Salvador Fiesta Rosa Three steps to the ceremonyThe celebration is called Fiesta Rosa in El Salvador. Everyone gathers to welcome the young girl into womanhood with a large ceremony. The young lady starts out dressed in a white dress resembling a “mini bride.” During this part of the night, she has her first dance with her father. There are three steps to the ceremony: 1) the separation from her parents when she must blow out her candles or accept flowers, 2) the transitional state where she is no longer a young girl, but not yet a full woman (the pink dress) and finally, 3) the emergence to womanhood. During the last part of the evening, she may wear a red dress. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Honduras Similar to a wedding White or pink dress Mass PartyIn Honduras, the celebration is similar to a wedding. The quinceañera wears a dress, usually pink or white. Invitations are sent out months ahead of the event. In Catholic families, there is a Mass followed by the party. The size of the party depends on the size of the city or village. It can range from a large affair filling a hotel, to a modest celebration at home. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Perú No church ceremony Velitas and rosas Vals Party beginsIn Peru, there is no church ceremony, but a smaller ceremony at the reception. When the quinceañera walks down the stairs or enters the room, there are some velitas and rosas. Velitas are 15 of her girlfriends who hold candles on one side and the rosas are 15 male friends who hold roses. They are in two separate lines. As the quinceañera comes in, she blows out a candle and picks a rose and is congratulated by the one holding it. At the end, her parents say a speech. Sometimes her friends may give a speech, too. Next, she dances the vals, or Waltz with her close male relatives and ends with her partner — usually her boyfriend. Then the party begins. In Peru, the popular word for quinceañeras’ birthday parties are kinos or quinces. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Quinceañera – Modern Takes on Tradition©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Color,Color and More Color!There has been an explosion of colors other than pink and white. In recent years, quinceañeras have started wearing more fashionable colors in their dress and court. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Costume Changes Quinceañera dresses are changing: Tighter-fittingColorful Wardrobe change between church and reception Quinceañera dresses are changing. Tighter-fitting and colorful fabrics are becoming more common. Even girls who wear a white gown for the Mass may change later, particularly if they choose to do a modern dance performance. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Bigger Is Better ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryThe size of the party is growing at the same rate as the amount of money spent on them. Girls want all their best friends to celebrate with them and their family. While most quinceañeras still have a court of fourteen: seven damas and seven chambelanes to include all of their friends, some girls are opting for smaller courts. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Dance Revolution ©2009 Teacher’s DiscoveryMany girls are not happy with the Waltz, but it is tradition. There is a huge demand for modern and choreographed dances. Some girls want to perform a solo number while others prefer to dance with their friends. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
Princess for a Night she is the princess. In the end, regardless ofthe country or location of the event, quinceañera is the girl turning fifteen — and in the eyes of the Spanish-speaking community ࡧ— becoming a woman. It is about her celebration and for one night, she is the princess. ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery
for use of photos and video: Chihuahua State Department of Tourism©2009 Teacher’s Discovery Produced & Written by: Suzanne Rutkowski Project Manager: Tina Groleau Technical Support: Joseph Kohler Special Thanks for use of photos and video: Chihuahua State Department of Tourism Robert Pineda Quinceañera Dreams Choreography Los Angeles, CA
La quinceañera ©2009 Teacher’s Discovery. What is it? The word quinceañera comes from two Spanish words: quince meaning fifteen and años meaning years.
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