The quinceanera is a traditional Hispanic celebration commemorating a young girl's transition into adulthood. Typically held around the girl's fifteenth birthday, the quinceanera is comprised of several distinct traditions, including a religious ceremony and a celebratory party that follows. The occasion is marked by different symbolic acts, like the changing of the shoes, that represent the journey into womanhood that every young girl must undertake.
The quinceanera typically begins with a church ceremony in which the Quinceanera, the young woman, makes a commitment to God. She is given signs of faith that typically include a bible and a rosary, and the Quinceanera is presented to the community as a woman for the first time. The Quinceanera is accompanied by family and friends during this ceremony, including 15 particular young men and women that she chooses to attend and partake in the ceremony with her.
Changing of the Shoes
The quinceanera is a ceremony that represents a young girl's transition into womanhood, and the traditional changing of the shoes is symbolic of her maturation. The young woman typically wears flats to her quinceanera ceremony, but at one point, her father changes her shoes from flats to high heels. This represents her change from childhood to adulthood, and it is typically followed by a dance between father and daughter.
The religious ceremony is typically followed by a reception or party with food, music and dancing. This reception includes a traditional waltz between the young woman and her father, as well as a toast to the Quinceanera. Guests share their well wishes and congratulate the Quinceanera on her coming of age, and not unlike a wedding reception, the party is commemorated with favors, a guest book, a decorative cake and champagne glasses.
Another tradition that marks Quinceanera's transition into adulthood is "the last doll." The last doll is a doll presented to the young woman, and is referred to as such because it is considered the last toy she receives as a child before becoming an adult. The doll is often incorporated into the reception somehow, such as being used for a cake topper or table centerpiece. Some women give away their doll as part of the reception -- for example, they may toss it into a crowd of younger girls as a bride tosses her bouquet to bachelorettes.
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