Thursday, November 09, 2006


I'm super excited!! I am going to my first Quinceanera. It's not until December, but it allows me to focus on something other then this never ending adoption! Our niece, Samantha, is turning 15. In South America, when turning 15 or 16 you celebrate what's called a Quinceanera. Samantha, being part Peruvian, would like to celebrate her upcoming 15th with this tradition.

So how am I getting to AZ to help celebrate? Our partner at our EHT business has a credit card that accumulates frequent flyer miles. The funny thing is, he doesn't like to fly. I asked if I could utilize a few of the enormous amount of miles that are saved up and he said yes!! In December I get to fly out to AZ and help our niece celebrate her birthday for FREE!! It's my best bargain of the year!!! (Well, OK, it's not totally free! I found an evening dress at the outlet mall for $25 Buckaroos! Clearance racks - gotta love em'!). One day we hope to celebrate in a similar fashion for Sonja's 15th, if we get her by then!!!

Here is her birthday present from Uncle Joel and I!

Here is more information on what a Quinceanera is:
Today's ceremonies embrace religious traditions, and the virtues of family and social responsibility. The custom is a celebration of the young girl (la Quinceanera), and a recognition of her journey from childhood to maturity. The celebration highlights God, family, friends, music, food, and dance.

In the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American traditions, the custom can be referred to as a Quince (XV) Años, a Quinces, or a Quinceanera. The celebration traditionally begins with a religious ceremony. A reception is held in the home or a banquet hall. The festivities include food and music, and in most, a choreographed waltz or dance performed by the Quinceanera and her court.

The Quinceanera's court can be comprised of young girls (called a Dama), young men (called Chambelán or Escorte or Galán) or a combination of both - traditionally up to 14 persons in the court, which with the Quinceanera, would total 15 young people.

The Quinceanera traditionally wears a ball gown, with her court usually dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Guests usually receive small tokens, cápias and cerámicas, to commemorate the celebration.

It is customary for the Quinceanera to receive the following gifts for her ceremony:

bracelet or ring
cross or medal or necklace
Bible or Prayer Book and Rosary
Other possible accessories for this special occasion might be:

flower bouquet
cake decoration
engraved cake server set
engraved champagne glasses
Quinceanera doll
XV guest registry book
XV remembrance photo album
invitations/reception cards
XV gift pillows
There are many traditions throughout the celebration. At the church ceremony, an XV pillow specially decorated with the Quinceanera's name, is placed in position for the young girl to kneel on during the ceremony. Smaller decorated pillows are also used for the presentation of the Quinceanera's gifts. At the reception, there is always the toast to the Quinceanera, known as the brindis. With specially decorated champagne glasses for the Quinceanera, the guests are invited to offer their congratulations and best wishes. The Quinceanera Doll, symbolizing the perfection of the event and the Quinceanera, is used as both a decoration and a keepsake. In some customs, the cápias (printed ribbons with the Quinceanera's name and date) are pinned to the doll, and the Quinceanera circulates among her guests, thanking them for their presence and presenting them with a memento taken from the doll.

The XV Años is a glorious celebration that remains a cherished and honored tradition.

The Traditional Gifts to the Quinceanera have special meaning for the celebration, and their honored significance relates to the Quinceanera's coming of age. The Traditional Gifts are special signs of loyalty and commitment to God, family and the community. Where the celebration includes the Mass of Thanksgiving, the gifts are presented to the priest for special blessings.

(Because Joel's sister and her family are not Catholic, they are tweeking their ceremony a bit differently!)

Denotes a "princess" before God and the world; a triumph over childhood and ability to face the challenges ahead.

Representing the unending circle of life, it symbolizes the unending emergence of the young woman's abilities and future contributions to society.

A reminder to listen to the word of God, and always hear and respond to the world around her.

Signifies faith - in God, in herself, and in her world.

Important resources to keep the word of God in her life.

In some Hispanic cultures, the gifts are given to the Quinceanera by "padrinos" (also called godparents or sponsors) specially chosen by the family. The padrinos who give the Traditional Gifts are formally recognized, and often are part of the procession for either the church or reception ceremony.

The TIARA also plays a role in the actual Quinceanera ceremony. It is traditional for the headpiece worn by the Quinceanera to be ceremoniously replaced with the TIARA. The "crowning" is done either by her parents or the godparent presenting the gift. A scepter is also presented to the Quinceanera at the same time. The scepter, being an emblem of authority, signifies authority (and responsibility) now being given to the young woman for her life. This ceremony usually takes place at the reception.

The Traditional Quinceanera Gifts are the distinctive, precious treasures for the ceremony; a cherished custom that highlights the Quinceanera celebration.

The mix of family and friends, young and old, near and far – all combine to make the celebration unique and special. Guests experiencing this beautiful tradition for the first time, frequently ask us, “Is a gift appropriate?” Yes, dear friends, a gift is appropriate. A Quinceañera or Sweet Sixteen celebration is basically a big birthday party (although a very special, very memorable one). So, anything that you think the young lady would like to receive would be an appropriate gift.

This information was found on

2 comment(s):

Stephanie said...

That sounds FUN- and I love your new picture!

Grandma W. said...

Well, now I know the exact meaning of the quinceanera ceremony. Much more important in the Latin cultures than I had thought. Thanks for all the good info, Lori.
Samantha's Grandma W.