The Quinceañera

Just saw a Travel Channel show that involved, among other things, a young Latina girl having her Quinceañera party at WDW. Apparently, this is a big enough deal that WDW has a special group of employees specifically for arranging these parties.

The girl’s family seemed to be rather well-off. That, or they saved for 15 years for this party. Either way, I’m curious: is this tradition (the Quinceañera generally, not necessarily having it at WDW) mostly practiced among the upper classes of Latin America, or is it practiced among all social classes?

Also, the dad in the show mentioned the girl becoming a “partner in the family’s decision-making, now that she’s an adult” or words to similar effect. Is this just a platitude, or is a post-Quinceañera young lady really considered an adult who has a say in the family’s affairs?

There are others who will be able to give you a lot more insight than I, but my sister-in-law recently attended a quincenarea party for a family friend. The family is not well off by any means. They had a ceremony at her church, followed by a party. The girl wore white, and she received gifts (flowers, a tiara, and some other stuff) that symbolized different things. It sounded more like a bat mitzvah than anything else. Since her family is Pentecostal, not Catholic, it may have been different from a “regular” quincenarea. This was in North Carolina, BTW.

WDW = Walt Disney World?

Yes, sorry. :smack:

Think of the quinceañera as the equivalent of the Sweet Sixteen (only a year earlier).

In Puerto Rico, those that celebrate it may be from different social classes, but of course the better off have the bigger parties. :wink:

I didn’t celebrate it, just as I would probably wouldn’t have celebrated Sweet Sixteen. I did attend a few, it was nice.

A fifteen year old may be considered more adult, but I doubt she’ll have any real part in decision making (just more responsabilities, if anything).

It’s fairly prevalent among all classes in Mexico as far as I can tell, but obviously economic resources dictate what a family can do. A poor family may just have a religious ceremony and family get-together at a church or home. A middle class family will rent a ballroom, have fancy dress, and spend a sizeable amount of income that may be saved up over a year or so - and upper class quinceañeras are like major society balls.

As far as adulthood, it can- like a debutante ball - mark the time when a young woman may acceptably date or be courted…but what that means depends on how conservative the family is.

Of course, not. all families do the quince.

For Mexico, all of the above, except the part where she would take part in the family decision-making. Machismo transcends all social classes (where machismo still exists, that is).

My wife’s oldest niece is planning a huge party at a very upscale, socially appropriate place. It will likely make the society page. On the other hand, my wife when she was that age just didn’t want a party at all. And that’s within the same social class, so there are differences there, too.

I’ve been to a few in New Mexico, and they tend to be about the same size I’d expect the girl’s graduation party to be. Most of the ones I’ve been to have had about 50-150 people. Lots of times they have it at their house, and combine it with a metanza ( pig roast), which is awesome. They kill a pig in the morning, bury some of the meat for the evening, cook a lot of the fat in a huge cauldron (don’t know the Spanish name) to make chicharones (cracklings). I’ve been to ones with DJs and live bands, and I’ve been to others where the girl’s family just makes lots of beans and rice and enchiladas.

It’s my understanding that the quice is the transition to womanhood which means the girl is now (traditionally) mature enough to wed, not that it allows her to be part of family decisions.

I went to one a few years ago. The family is not all that well off, but they did dump alot of money into this. It was like a mini wedding.

Agree with all of the above. Families spend what they can afford but are often willing to go into debt for it. The Quinceañera is also a rite of passage in the Filipino community and is generally pretty much the same but with lots of karaoke.

Is it only for girls or is there an equivalent for boys at fifteen?

Only for girls, again, think like “Sweet Sixteen” only done a year before.

Walk down Mission Street in San Fran, and, between 30th and 16th streets you’ll see a half-dozen stores which specialize in Quinceanera supplies and staging. It seems to be popular among the Mexican community. I had never heard of it before moving to SF. I wonder if Puerto Ricans celebrate this - I lived among a lot of people from PR on the east coast, and remember nothing resembling how it is here…


See above, they do celebrate it in the island, at least. I’ve been to ones that were more “modern” (the girl did not look like a little bride), but I’ve also seen more traditional ones.

There may be variation in the sense that you describe, as in you as an outsider may not notice it as much (the parties may be more quiet down, family-only things) as in other cultures. But it definitely exists. :slight_smile:

I’ve been to several of my husband’s family Quince. They’re from PR. It’s more than just a sweet sixteen a year earlier. It symbolizes the transition to adulthood. It’s a formal event. There is a special mass where they say prayers for her to remain faithful. I remember on one occasion a priest had to be convinced to do the mass because he contended that most girls weren’t ‘pure’ anymore.

After church, they typically had rented a hall, and there were either 8 boy/girl couples or 16 boy/girl couples, usually family members, as attendants. The attendants come into the hall, and dance the first waltz. Then the girl comes in accompanied by her date, sometimes a boyfriend, sometimes a cousin, sometimes her dad, and joins the waltz.

She has worn no heeled slippers all day, and after the waltz, she sits in a peacock chair, where her parents switch her slippers for high heels, symbolizing her passage into womanhood. For some families it means she could wear makeup, for some she could date, but for many it was a celebration and a reason to have a big party.

I have seen them overdone, I have seen them done tastefully, but they are all big affairs. I know I’m working from a small sample size (10-12 quinces, in NY, PR and Orlando), but what really chafes my butt about them was that three years later many (not all thankfully) of the families didn’t care that the girls graduated high school --no celebration, no dinner at the house, nothing. You survived to 15–PARTY, You worked hard and accomplished something --so what? end rant.

In Texas, Quinceaneras appear to be most popular among the middle to lower class folk who are more traditional. It has been my experience that the more “Americanized” kids think that the Quince is a little cheesey and old fashioned.

The cost/work of putting on the party is often offset by family and friends who are asked to be padrinos or sponsors for certain items (cake, decorations, whatever). It is pretty cool to be asked to be a sponsor because a). It means that they think highly of you or your family. b.)They think that you got the dough to afford it. c.)Your family or your name will be printed in the program to show everyone that you reached that “type of guy who gets asked to be a Padrino” status.