The Quinceañera is an important tradition in Latin culture, but planning a quince can be overwehelming to some. Many cultures celebrate a girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood; The Jewish bat mitzvah, the Debutante Ball, and the Sweet 16 all celebrate a girl’s becoming a woman. The Quinceañera, however, has its own rich history and significance in Latin culture. The quinceañera has been celebrated in some form for more than 600 years. Its roots arefound in Maya and Aztec rituals. In these ancient cultures, the quinceañera was a time to offer thanks to the gods for delivering women for the men to marry and who would bear children. At the time, girls who reached fifteen were considered eligible for marriage and ready to assume the roles and responsibilities of women in the community and the family. Eventually, the Spaniards influenced the ritual and a deeply Catholic connection emerged.
Today the quinceañera is a celebration of a Hispanic girl’s transition from girlhood to womanhood. It is a time for her family to formally introduce her to the community and a time for the quinceañera and her family to give thanks to God for these fifteen years. The quinceañera also marks the opportunity for the young woman to reaffirm her baptism, her loyalty to God, and her commitment to a life of faith. The quinceañera service and reception are filled with traditions, but as happens with all sorts of traditions, they are often changed or ignored. The quinceañera is not a sacrament of the church, and some quinces forgo the church ceremony altogether (as is the custom in the Dominican Republic) and celebrate only with the reception and banquet. Many non-Catholic churches will also work with quinceañeras to provide a Protestant version of this very special service.