The history of quinceañera paper


In most cultural and religious settings, birthdays, marriage, and death are often treated as a special event. People treat birthday as a life celebration and a passage of life.  Birthday and marriage celebrations are typically named and performed based on cultural background; different cultures have a different way of celebrating their birthdays. Some communities perform public rituals to celebrate different stages of life, including marriage and death. Latin American counties like Mexico and Cuba value the girl’s entrance into womanhood; when the time reaches, girls are often accorded as a special event to mark the memorial day and the critical passage of life (Olsen). For a young Mexican girl, a special ritual known as Quinceañera is held to celebrate the journey of a girl to womanhood; it marks the girl’s eligibility for marriage. The ceremony is usually held on the 15th birthday, a girl to celebrate her transformation into being a lady who can now do many things by herself. The celebration is unique because it differs from the other birthday celebrations which are held between the age of 1 and 124 years. During the event, the girl who is being celebrated receives a gorgeous gift from the family, something that she will never get rid of throughout her life. The reward, however, depends on the capability of the family.

The history of quinceañera

The history of quinceañera can be traced back to Aztec times. Initially, the celebration was treated a fabulous event where the parents of the young Aztec maiden was expected to acknowledge the passage their daughter into womanhood formally; it was stern but a tender passage exhortation (Karelius). Over the years, quinceañera developed to become one of the highly essential rituals in a Mexican girl’s history. Currently, the preparation and planning for quinceañera start several years before the actual event; the parent gets everything ready to make sure that the game is a success. The event has turned out to be some competition among different families; people are keen to note approximate the amount of items used in the event and how it compares between families. Planning for quinceañera has become expensive to the extent that the cost approximated to be higher than that of a small wedding. Even though the event has continued to grow more expensive, families still perform the function and treat it as an extraordinary celebration. Quinceañera is treated as an important event because it creates a path for a girl to become a better person in life, a girl with new ideas to guide her throughout the experience.

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Ethnographic Description

Quinceañera is a very elaborate event; in most cases, the celebration starts at least one year before the actual day of the event. The ceremony allows the Hispanic girls to identify themselves in the Hispanic community (Santizo). The girls’ parents also have the chance to demonstrate to the society that their daughter possesses values qualifying her to become a woman in the community. The ritual is expected to be straightforward, with no show of the family wealth. The celebration is held only for Hispanic girls who are about to turn 15 years old. According to how Quinceañera is conducted and it’s meaning in the society, the event is only suitable for girls and not boys. Unlike girls, boys are born as men, but girls grow to become women with time.

During the event, the girl gives a speech before the attendees; she is allowed to select fifteen whom she wants to celebrate her within the presence of other family members as well as friends. The primary purpose of the event is to remind the girl (now a young woman) some of her roles as a woman and tell her more about ethical responsibilities. Quinceañera is more of a wedding rehearsal minus the groom. As the ceremony continues, the young girl whose life is celebrated is required to place a flower bouquet on the church’s altar as an offering. The girl is given a crown and the priest in charge of the crown recite some passages from the bible that highlights its importance.  At this stage, the girl may become more intense since all the attention in the church is directed on her. The young woman enters the church in a pair of flat shoes, and as she walks towards the alter, everyone at the celebration keenly observes her. The father, the girls, switch her flat shoes with high heeled adult shoes.It symbolizes a passage in life; the girl is now graduating to become some young women in the community.

In most cases, the young woman is usually given a ring which signifies the infinite circle of the love of God. The now young woman is expected to wear the ring in one of her fingers in the right. In some ceremonies, the girl is given a doll to symbolize the last item she is offered as a child.


Quinceañera sends a clear message to the Mexican girl concerning what the family expects from her. The ceremony is meant to set the girl free as she is no longer a child; she is supposed to get married and have time for her family. It gives the girl a sense of responsibility and transforms into a woman. Most girls who have Quinceañera rarely drop out of school, and they are not likely to get pregnant before marriage (Maddicks). Therefore, the ceremony is essential in a young girl’s life as it shows them the right direction to follow and change her way of thinking. In addition to that, the ceremony brings the whole family together in celebration of one of their girl; the events allow the girl to bond with other family members, particularly her mother.  All the people who attend the birthday are expected to dedicate their time and attention to the birthday girl. It makes her feels special and make the day a memorial day throughout her life.

During Quinceañera, the girl feels special, and this is what changes her way of thinking. She starts to have a feeling of importance in her life, and her view of things in life changes significantly. It also gives the community a platform to prove how much it values its culture and its uniqueness as compared with the surrounding communities. Even though it is expected to be simple without any show of wealth, things have changed over time. Planning the ceremony has become more expensive, and the celebration is slowly losing its meaning. Initially, the event was explicitly meant to symbolize a girl’s transformation from childhood to adulthood. Still, it has since changed to become a way of proving the social status of the family. People have resorted to massive spending to show off the amount of their wealth. Currently, Quinceañera can averagely cost five thousand dollars, which some families cannot afford. Spending that kind of money for a one-night event is just incredible. However, that is the trend, and you cannot do anything about it. Some families are forced to spend that kind of money even if they that such spending might leads the family into a financial crisis. The society has also raised its expectations so high, making it difficult to go against people’s expectation. Again the girls who own the ceremony have changed their perception towards the celebration; they tend to value the material component of the event as compared to the traditional bit of it.


In conclusion, Quinceañera remains the most important ritual among the Mexicans. The ceremony matters to the life of the young girl who is expected to transform into a woman. Quinceañera is a simple free ceremony where family members and friends of the birthday girl are expected to attend. It matters to the life of a young girl who is now transforming to become a woman this because It allows the girl to change her thinking and perception about how she views things in society. It acts as the light that will guide the young girl throughout her life as she plans to get married and have a family just like any other woman in the society.  Quinceañera also has some religious impact on the girl’s life; she starts to know the importance of God in her life and the need to keep her faith in God alive.  The birthday girls are expected to participate in the ceremony willingly and not against their will.The event is supposed to be purely traditional without any form of family show off. It is the presence of family and friends that should make the event special and not the money used to organize the event.

Works Cited

Karelius, Brad. Desert Spirit Places: The Sacred Southwest. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2018.

Maddicks, Russell. Mexico-Culture Smart!: The essential guide to customs & culture. Kuperard, 2017.

Olsen, Kirstin. Daily Life of Women in the Progressive Era. ABC-CLIO, 2019.

Santizo, Jackeline Belen. Quinceañeras in the margins: queer and disabled Latinx/a/os coming of age stories. Diss. San Francisco State University, 2018.

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