Quinceañeras: What Are They?


A quincenera is an important event in Hispanic culture.

by Emily Galvan, Staff Writer

Quinceañeras are very important in Latino culture. A quince is a grand coming of age party to celebrate the girls becoming women. Originally, it was used as a birthday celebration for fathers to marry off their daughters. The suitors would come offering gifts for their daughter’s hand in marriage, and the gift that the father most favored, would be chosen. There would usually be a Mass, a doll given to the quinceañera, plenty of alcohol, a father-daughter dance, a dance with a court including the quinceañera, and other things. A quinceañera could be interpreted as a sweet 16th, but on a grander scale. For example, the girl would wear an extravagant ball gown which the color scheme of the party would revolve around. Tiaras, fancy necklaces and makeup are commonplace in this setting. 

Beforehand, usually there are plenty of photoshoots with the quinceañera and her court, and sometimes close loved ones. There is a segment of the dances called the baile sorpresa, which translates to the surprise dance. It comes after the first batch of dances with the backup dancers, called vals. After all of the dances are over, the floor is opened for the party to go dancing after eating, like a wedding. The planning of the parties takes up to two years in advance, and is very tedious. There would usually be a mariachi band playing in between dances while the party goers eat and chat amongst themselves. 

Cypress Spanish teacher, Ms. Reyes, remembers her own quinceanera. “Mine was not big, it was small.” She also said that she remembers having all the people she loves together in the same place.

A quinceanera is a very fond memory, a major milestone in our lives, comparable to that of a wedding. It showcases the girl’s purity, and preparedness for marriage in the earlier times, and continues today.