A Traditional Salvadoran Quinceanera

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The quinceanera is a celebration of a young girl's transition to adulthood..
The quinceanera is a celebration of a young girl's transition to adulthood.. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

A quinceanera is a traditional Latin celebration that occurs around a girl's 15th birthday. Most Latin American countries have their own traditions associated with the celebration, but in all, it marks one of the most important days of a young woman's life and is shared by family and friends alike. In El Salvador, the celebration is also known as the fiesta rosa, and signifies the girl's entrance into adulthood.

Clothing and Colors

The girl being honored at the ceremony dresses in part as the princess that her family considers her, and in part as a young girl at the point of becoming a woman. Pink is the traditional color in El Salvador, and typically the girl will be dressed in a pink gown accompanied by pink shoes and gloves. Common accessories include a tiara and a scepter.

The color pink ties in with the idea of a rose party. The traditional meaning behind pink roses is one of appreciation and gratitude, and the image of a young girl dressed in pink signifies that she is showing gratitude to her parents and to other family members and friends in attendance. Pink is also the color of innocence, signifying that she is transitioning from the innocence of girlhood to womanhood.

Food

One of the central features of the El Salvadoran quinceanera is the food. A large spread with traditional foods is prepared by the girl's parents; close relatives also usually bring something to contribute to the feast.

Pupusa is one of the most traditional dishes. It is prepared using a thick corn tortilla that is then stuffed with ingredients such as pork rinds or beans. Also commonly offered to guests are dishes of rice and beans, squash and fried pork rinds. Dessert is a cake, usually a large one with an elaborate design that matches the decorations and the color of the girl's dress.

Celebration

In addition to the food, there is usually music and dancing throughout the night. Those who are attending bring presents for the young woman; these are typically items that she will need as a woman. Jewelry, makeup and clothing are all popular, especially some expensive items. Religious items such as a Bible and rosary are also common. Traditionally, the girl's parents will give her a single large gift.

During the meal, there will be a toast to the girl and her entrance into maturity. Throughout the night, the girl is escorted by the members of her court, serving much the same function as a bridal party. These attendees of honor are typically the closest friends and family. The first dance is always one shared by the girl and her father.

Ceremony

As a Catholic country, El Salvador typically includes a Catholic Mass as an important part of the quinceanera. The girl being honored is typically in front during the ceremony, kneeling on a pillow to show her devotion to her faith.

During the ceremony, the girl is presented with a ring from her father as a symbol of her parents accepting her emergence into womanhood. For the entire Mass, she is accompanied by not only her parents, but her godparents as well.

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