The Quinceañera or Quince años is, in some Spanish-speaking regions of the
Americas, a young woman's celebration of her fifteenth birthday, which is commemorated in a unique and different way from her other birthdays. It is sometimes represented "XV Años", meaning "15 years." Only a few countries call the actual party "quinceañera."
Besides referring to the actual festivities, the word is also used to refer to the young woman whose 15th birthday is being celebrated (analogous to the word "cumpleañera" for "birthday girl"). The closest equivalents to the quinceañera in the English-speaking world are the sweet sixteen, Bar or Bat Mitzvah for
Jewishboys turning 13 and Jewish girls turning 12 respectively, cotillion, or, in more affluent communities, the debutante ballfor those who turn 18.
There are several different theories as to the origin of this celebration; the most common is that the quinceaños was the result of a blending of mostly religious traditions from both Spanish conquerors and the native people of
Mexico. Specifically, this celebration contains elements of the coming of age traditions and Mexican ceremonies along with elements from Spanish culture.Fact|date=February 2008 The quinceaños resembles and probably gets its name from a 16th-century Spanish tradition of presenting one's 15-year-old daughter to society.Fact|date=February 2008 Over time, as the natives were converted to Catholicismby Spanish missionaries, they also began to emulate some of the practices of the Spanish.Fact|date=February 2008
Often English speakers believe “Quinceaños” and “Quinceañera” are synonyms, and therefore interchangeable. In reality “Quinceaños” is the name of the event (such as The Wedding) whereas the “Quinceañera” is the girl who is being honored during the event (such as the Bride). This misconception has been spread by t.v. shows such as The Wizards of Waverly Place.
In the Mexican tradition, the celebration is a festive gathering with relatives and friends. Sometimes a church mass is celebrated in honor of the birthday girl. The "Quinceaños" celebration to the Mexicans, marks the transition from girlhood to womanhood. The girl's court is sometimes made up of all girls (Las damas) or all boys, although it is not mandatory to have a court. The Quinceañera’s partner for the night, is referred to as the "Chambelan". In some traditions the so-called "Quinceañera" has godparents to pay for certain things, like the dress, cake, music,
limousines, church, flowers and decorations, etc.
In Salvadoran culture it is custom for a girl transcending from 14 to 15 to have a "Fiesta De Rosas". "Fiesta De Rosas" is a very much anticipated time in a girl's life. As in all quinceaños, there is a church mass before the coronation and other events. In "La Fiesta De Rosas" the girl's dress before the coronation is pink (innocence, childlike) with flat shoes. After the coronation the mother or father changes the flat shoes for heels. Most girls choose to have a second dress, typically red (womanhood).
* Victorian Rose Couture is the first company to make high end Couture gowns for Quinceaneras, [http://www.vrcouture.com Victorian Rose Couture]
* Bertrand, Diane Gonzalez. "Sweet fifteen" Houston: Piñata Books (1995) * Bertrand, Diane Gonzalez. "Sweet fifteen" Houston: Piñata Books (1995)
* Davalos, Karen Mary. "La Quinceanera: Making Gender and Ethnic Identities" "Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies", Vol. 16, No. 2/3, Gender, Nations, and Nationalisms (1996), pp. 101 - 127
* King, Elizabeth. "Quinceañera : celebrating fifteen" New York: Dutton's Children's Books (1998)
* [http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/Quinceanera.pdf Roman Catholic Ritual for Quinceañeras] from the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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