In many Hispanic communities, the quinceanera highlights a girl's transition to young womanhood. Since it serves as a celebration of her completion of childhood and her presentation to the larger community, the family of the young woman plays a vital part. As members of her extended family, her godparents, or padrinos, are important in this transition as well, and have several roles to play in the celebration and surrounding events.
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Role in Planning
Godparents often play a vital role throughout the planning of the quinceanera. This process can be quite involved, sometimes beginning as much as a year before the event. The quinceanera is family-centered, and godparents often serve as important go-betweens with other branches of the family and community, helping to arrange for the young lady's escorts (chambelanes) and maids of honor (damas). Some churches require that godparents attend religious preparation sessions.
Sponsors of the Quinceanera
In some Hispanic communities and families, it is the practice for the godparents to sponsor or co-sponsor the quinceanera. In recent years, celebrations have become more complex and expensive. As a result, sponsorship is even more important. Godparents sometimes pay for or help pay for things such as as limo service or catering, or arrange for such services to be offered by family members and friends as gifts to the young woman.
Formal Gifts for the Ceremony
Godparents present religious gifts such as a rosary, a rosary book or a holy medal for use during the special mass that usually precedes the quinceanera celebration. A special kneeling pillow usually is among the gifts. The young woman uses this pillow during the religious ceremony formalizing and celebrating her new adult role in the church. At one point in the service, the godparents may join the parents in standing with the young woman before the altar.
At the Celebration
After the mass, godparents may escort the young woman into the hall or residence where the ball is being held. The girl's godfather may help her change from childish flat shoes to high heels, and then be her first partner in a formal waltz -- although in some families, the father takes these roles. Gifts from godparents often include a tiara and a sceptre, representing the lady's new responsibilities, and a ceremonial "last doll," which she gives to a younger female relative, symbolizing her new role as an adult.