Meaning of the word
The word quinceanera breaks up into two words: quince and anera. Quince translates into 15 and anera is word derived from anos to indicate performing the act of. Thus, anera translates as a woman changing age. Together, both words comprize the definition a woman turning 15.
Importance of the quinceanera
The quinceanera is a young Hispanic woman's celebration of her fifteenth birthday. This birthday is celebrated differently from her other birthdays. The quinceanera is considered to be the most important birthday as it symbolizes the transition from childhood to womanhood. This event is usually celebrated with an elaborate ritual.
Celebration of the quinceanera
An elaborate ritual is executed to celebrate the quinceanera. The celebration begins with a Thanksgiving mass (Misa de Acción de Grácias). At this mass, the quinceanera is accompanied by a head chamberlain (chambelan), several other chamberlains, maids of honor (damas), her parents, and godparents (padrinos). The quinceanera, chamberlains, and maids are all dressed in formal attire, but the quinceanera is uniquely and the chamberlains and maids are in matching attire. Sometimes the head chamberlain is dressed uniquely as well to distinguish him from the rest of the chamberlains. At this mass, the quinceanera, along with the rest of her family and friends, thank God for all their blessings.
After the mass, a feast usually follows either at the family's home or at a banquet hall. At this feast there is food and dancing. Special party favors (recuerdos) at distributed to the guests to remember this special event. During this feast a celebration danced is performed. It usually comprizes of a choreographed waltz with the quinceanera, the chamberlains and maids of honor. In this waltz it is customary to have a portion dedicated to symbolizing the transition from childhood to womanhood. In this special dance there is also a portion dedicated for the quinceanera to thank her father, and other relatives, with a dance.
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This article was originally published on January 5, 2006.