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From Little Girl to Young Lady: The Traditions of the Quinceanera

Did you ever look at that long, long to-do list for your Quinceanera and wonder where all of those details came from and what they mean? Well, they’re what makes a Hispanic girl’s 15th birthday far more important and meaningful than a simple Sweet 16 party. Your Quinceanera symbolizes your transition from childhood to adulthood, and is so important that it takes a 2-part celebration to really do it justice. So let’s take a look at the beautiful symbolism behind that to-do list of yours. We’ll start with your ceremony, end with your Last Doll, and have fun changing your shoes in between!

Four Traditional Gifts

The first and probably most important things that set your Quinceanera apart from any other birthday are the beautiful and meaningful spiritual gifts you’ll receive. Not only are these accessories lovely in their own right, but they represent the spiritual beauty that is blossoming inside you.

You may not have all four of these accessories on your Quinceanera shopping list, but once you know what they really stand for, you just might change your mind!

  • Tiara: While a Sweet 16 girl may wear a tiara for fun, your Quinceanera tiara marks you as a princess of God who is now ready to rise above the simple life of a child and take your adult place in both your religious family and your family of relatives and friends.
  • Scepter: A scepter has always been a symbol of power for royalty. Now that you’re no longer a child, your scepter represents your authority as a full member of your religious community as well as your responsibility to participate in the important events and rituals in the Church.

To read a beautiful poem written about specifically about your Quinceanera scepter, click here: https://scepter.wordpress.com/tag/quinceanera-poem/

  • Cross or Crucifix or Medal: This beautiful piece of jewelry is for you to wear as a visible symbol of your faith in God.
  • Bible or Prayer Book and Rosary: Some Quinceaneras choose to receive all three of these gifts. The Bible is a reminder to learn God’s word while the prayer book is a meditation and commentary on those words. The rosary is a lovely tradition that’s been adopted by many Christians as a way to pray in a gentle, repetitive way.

Gotta Love Those Shoes!

Although it’s nowhere nearly as symbolic as the religious accessories, the Quinceanera tradition of the Changing of the Shoes is both significant and is just plain fun! Changing from flats to heels marks your transformation from a little girl to a young lady.

Ceremonial Pillows

During the church ceremony, you’ll be required to kneel, and your family may give you a unique pillow embroidered with your name or initials. You may also have other pillows for the presentation of your tiara and scepter, and sometimes for your shoes. You can have your pillows beautifully decorated with ribbons and ruffles and lace in a matched set, or your family may give you hand-made or hand-decorated pillows. It all depends on personal preference as well as whatever style goes best with the theme of your Quince.

First Toast & Last Doll

At your reception, it’s tradition that you, the Quinceanera, be welcomed by your guests with a celebratory toast called a brindis. This toast is usually your first taste of champagne, so, of course, there are sets of decorated toasting glasses made specifically for a Quince.

The Last Doll is often the final ceremonial act that marks the end of your childhood. Some Quinceaneras carry the doll during some of the dancing while others give it to their younger sister or cousin in a simple ceremony some time later in the reception program.

The toasting glasses, and the Last Doll, and the pillows, and the guest book can all be ordered in matched sets or again, can be decorated individually for a personal touch.

Modern Abundance

Once a simple celebration often held at home or in the church recreation hall, Quinceaneras are now often grand affairs, and your parents may have saved up as much for your Quince as they will for your wedding!

While the meaning of the Quinceañera still holds— a right of passage into adulthood—modern day Quince’s have included a few more trappings that add both to the extravagance of the affair and also to its expense. Although there are some families who celebrate a Quince within a modest budget, there are others who go all out with high-end invitations, expensive designer dresses, full course formal dinners and ultra-professional photo, video and entertainment.

Neither style is right or wrong. It’s all up to you and your family as to how lavish you want your Quince to be.

No Matter How You Celebrate, Your Quince is a Very Special Day!

Even though other cultures may not attach as much importance to a 15th or 16th birthday, you know what your birthday is all about. Entering adulthood should always be celebrated whether you’re a debutante, a sweet sixteen, or turning 21.

But of all the ways to celebrate landmark birthdays, the Quince has taught us to make the most of the occasion. So enjoy your special day, because whether it’s simple or over the top opulent, your Quinceanera is your day to really shine!