The origins of the Quinceañera ceremony are often attributed to the ancient customs of the Aztecs, but its meaning is similar to the initiation rites practiced by other cultures the world over.
The purpose of the ceremony is to celebrate a girl’s transformation from childhood to young adulthood and to formally assign her a new social role before the entire community.
Today there are various ways to celebrate the Quinceañera, and although the significance has not changed, the Church plays an important role in the ceremony in some Central American countries, as well as in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Nowadays the idea to celebrate a young lady’s fifteenth birthday is to thank God for all of the blessings the family has received. Below is a list of items that are typically offered by the Quinceañera’s court during the ceremony:
- Bible: It is recommended to have a Bible covered in either satin, lace, silk, taffeta, etc. It is the first object that is given to the young lady during the ceremony when the priest or pastor indicates it. He will talk about the importance of the word of God in the Quinceañera’s life.
- Flower Bouquet: The flowers should be the same color as the Quinceañera’s dress. She will leave the bouquet at the altar as an offering and her parents will approach her when she is at the altar.
- Tiara: It is the crown that the young lady wears to indicate that she is the princess, the daughter of God. The minister will talk about the crowns that are mentioned in the Bible.
- Three Roses: One closed button, one half open, and one completely open. They represent her infancy, childhood, and current age respectively. Each flower should receive a special mention during the religious act, although this ritual can also be performed at the reception.
- Quince Shoes: If possible, the flats should be white and the heels should match the color of the dress. The father or the guest of honor helps the young lady switch shoes. This tradition is celebrated in the church as well as the reception.
- Watch: She has to wear it on her left wrist. It indicates the time dedicated to God and also serves as a reminder that God will arrive and that she has to be prepared. However, in other cultures the godparents give this gift to the Quinceañera during the feast.
- Ring or Cross: Should have a diamond or a stone of her choice. The ring represents the infinite circle of God’s love and has to be worn on the right-hand annular (ring) finger. When the ring is given the Quinceañera may read a verse or sing a song about the promise made to God. The cross symbolizes faith in Christ.
- Doll: Sometimes the doll is dressed as the Quinceañera and is given to a younger girl. It symbolizes the end of childhood. This is the last doll given during the celebration.
- Candle: It must be an 18-inch candle and has to be decorated with ribbons and roses that match the dress. This candle represents the light given to the children by their parents. At this moment the mother walks with the candle towards the altar after the Quinceañera has offered the flower bouquet, then both parents meet the young lady at the altar where they light the candle and place it on a candlestick. Now the parents kneel down and pray for their daughter. The Quinceañera will pray and thank God for the new role she will assume.
Finally, the Quinceañera thanks her parents and talks about the meaning of her celebration. The priest concludes the ceremony with the final blessing.
Main picture by AVM Photo Boutique.