Quinceañera Hispanic Culture traditions

Princess in blue

I was at the peace gardens park taking pictures of a family on Saturday and three different quinceañera groups showed up in three limos. The family thought that these were wedding parties and I had to explain that they were not wedding parties but it is a tradition in many Hispanic cultures for young women when they turn 15 or (Quince) they become women and the parents and godparents throw a party for the girl.

The Catholic girls normally have a special mass before the party. Many times these parties are more extravagant than weddings. As you can see from the pictures the dresses are beautiful. Pictures are taken and invitations are sent out just like wedding invitations.

Another princess

Three years ago we attended about 6 or 7 of these parties because that is the year my son turned 15. The girl normally decides on a group of young men to be her escorts and they rent or buy tuxedos and the damas or girl escorts rent or buy beautiful dresses as well. Normally a limo is rented and they go somewhere like the capitol or the peace gardens to take pictures and those are taken by a professional photographer.

The girl goes early in the morning to a salon to have her hair, makeup and nails done. Often the dances are practiced months ahead of time, I know because my son has participated in these dances. Later after the Salon, mass, Limo ride and pictures they go to a big rented hall that is decorated where food is served, more pictures and videos are taken, presentations occur and a show is put on and then dancing starts. Many times the girl will dance with her father for a special number. Sometimes beer is served at these functions and they have security checking ID for age.

After one of these parties the mother can then take a deep breath and finally relax because these functions are so involved and require so much time planning and decorating that the parents get very stressed out. Many parents save or years for these parties and the cost is normally from 5 to 25 thousand dollars when you include everything all together depending on how many guests are invited. Once we attended one at the fair grounds that had a professional band and about 500 in attendance.

back view

The food alone in a party of this type runs into the thousands and then when you add beer even more. Some of the families in my area only spend around 7 or 10 thousand. My daughter did not want one of these parties and when she turned 15 she was in Guatemala with her grandparents and she had a party with cake and friends but it was fairly small. There is peer pressure and it seems even a competitive spirit among some of the parents to have an better party than the last one they attended.

I don’t think that when a girl turns 15 she is woman yet although this is definitely a turning point in the girl’s life and how her parents treat her after that. I attended one specific mass in Spanish where I turned to my daughter afterwards and asked her what she learned and surprisingly enough she was able to give me several points of wisdom that the Priest has shared and I was impressed she had paid attention. So if you would like to add to this explanation of culture I would welcome it.

The Quince parties in my opinion are one of several traditions that show a deep commitment to culture and faith although I see that sometimes people go overboard and I suppose if you have the money or have saved up for it then I am all for it although I have also seen families that do not have much money and they end up going into debt for a large party that they cannot afford and that may not always be a prudent decision.

I mentioned that my daughter did not want one of these fancy parties although deep down inside I bet she did but she knew our financial situation and she was considerate enough to pretend she did not want one. Michelle won “Flower of the Fair” “Flor de la feria” in Guatemala and did have the opportunity to participate in more than a week long competition that included: Talent, Speeches, Riding Horses, being in parades, dance competitions, she was in the news and photographers took a host of pictures of her so she did have her princess experience after all.

My daughter at 15