In many Latin American countries and Spanish speaking communities, the Quinceanera is a well-known and celebrated tradition. Also known as “fiesta de quince anos”, this is a traditional celebration for a girl’s fifteenth birthday. It symbolizes her transition from childhood to womanhood. Although how the event is celebrated differs from one place to another, the common theme is families celebrating with music, food, dancing and a beautiful dress for the honored young woman.
Planning the Celebration
Quinceaneras may be as elaborate as a wedding, including engraved invitations, a church service, and a party of attendants, sometimes as many as fourteen. Some communities emphasize the religious aspects of the celebration and include a mass or blessing at the beginning of the event. Other families choose to rent a hall for the occasion while simpler celebrations may be held in the home.
Planning should start several months before the event with simple “save the date” cards. These can be followed up with formal invitations sent to family and friends from the parents. Invitations can be specially printed or purchased pre-printed. Many online vendors allow information to be submitted and they in turn print individualized invitations. For simpler celebrations, there are many choices in invitations sold at retail locations. Many invitations are available in both English and Spanish.
The type of music will depend on the location and budget of the family. Live music is a fantastic touch if the budget allows. Traditional mariachi bands can be combined with popular music. Traditionally, the birthday girl dances one formal dance with her father and another with her escort before everyone else joins in.
Choosing a Dress
The center of any quinceanera is the dress. Most girls choose a full skirted style in white or pastel color. Fabrics may be lace, satin or other delicate fabrics. Usually, a separate underskirt is attached to give extra volume to the skirt. Other colors include deeper shades like gold, green, violet and deep blue. Online retailers offer many choices in quinceanera ball gowns for a range of sizes and budgets.
Other silhouettes include fitted gowns, A-line styles, mermaid, high-low and other styles. Although most girls choose long styles, short styles can be flattering and appropriate. Fabrics like chiffon, satin, silk and even velvets in season can be very attractive. Gowns and dresses can also be adorned with sequins, pearls and jewels to really make a fashion statement.