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History of the Quinceañera

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A quinceañera, also known as a fiesta de quince años or simply a quince, is a significant moment in a young Latin girl’s life, almost as anticipated and revealed as her wedding ceremony. The quinceañera marks the fifteenth birthday of a Latin girl, and symbolizes her transition from childhood into womanhood (Wikipedia).

The origin of the quinceañera has been linked back to rights of passage performed by the ancient Aztecs. According to Latin myths, the Aztecs recognized a young girl as a woman once she turned fifteen, and therefore found her to be eligible for marriage. Women were not held in high regard in society, so girls were often prepared by the elderly women of the community the skills needed to succeed as wives and mothers, such as cooking and weaving. When a girl was married, she was said to be carried on the backs of her elderly caretakers to the home of her new groom, while lighting the path behind her (Myths of Latin America). There are other myths that have Christianty roots, suggesting that at the age of fifteen, a girl was able to choose between marriage or a life dedicated to serving her faith. All of the legends and myths recognize the fifteen year of a girl’s life to be a transitional period into womanhood, and that still rings true today, although the transition is now regarded much more as symbolic than literal.

Today, although particular traditions vary throughout the different countries in Latin America, a quinceañera is a day of joy and celebration. The girl’s family thoughs a party for her loved ones and friends, and she dons large, beautiful dress, which is a very important part of the quince. This is the first dress that the girl has chosen to wear as a young woman. In some counties, there are religious undertones t te situation, bearing similarities to the customs of a wedding. For example, in Argentina, it is customary for the girl to arrive with her father, and be escorted on his arm into the party, much like the way a father leads his daughter down the aisle to be handed off to her groom. In many countries, it is customary for the father and daughter to share a special waltz together in front of all the guests. Girls who are celebrating may also have a court of friends and perform a dance with them, just as a bride has a court of bridesmaids on her wedding day.

Regardless of which traditions someone chooses to follow, a quinceañera is a magical day of symbolism and love for a young girl and her family.

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