The Quinceanera Tradition – Sweet 15

Hello Blog fans.

This week I want to share some information with you all about the Quinceañera.  A Hispanic tradition which honors a daughter when she reaches the age of fifteen.  Although you may be familiar with the term, you may not be familiar with what exactly it is and why is it celebrated in (for the most part) such a grandios way.  So here is some information compiled from the web to help explain what it’s all about.

In just a couple of weeks, I will have the honor of photographing another one of these events and I will post some images, so stay tuned.  Subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss it!

What is a quinceañera?

The quinceañera is a traditional celebration of life and gratitude to God on the occasion of the fifteenth birthday of a young Hispanic woman. The ritual emphasizes her passage from childhood to adulthood. The family usually requests a Mass or a blessing to be held in the Church. The rite is frequently celebrated in several countries in the Americas, including Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It is frequently requested by Hispanic Catholics in the dioceses of the United States of America.

What is the origin of the quinceañera?

The tribes of Meso-America, possibly the Mayas and Toltecs, celebrated elaborate rites of passage for their young men and women. Rites of passage are known to have existed in the Iberian Peninsula as well. It is believed that he Spanish conquistadores may have brought the practice to Meso-America. It is possible that the missionaries would have approved of this practice, since these rites closely paralleled Christian practices of initiation and marriage. The ancient Mozarabic Rite of the Iberian peninsula had elaborate rituals marking the passage of baptized adolescents, each of which included specific references to Christian initiation and each of which was celebrated following the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. With the suppression of the Mozarabic Rite, many of these rituals passed into popular religious practice.

How is a quinceañera celebrated?

In the presence of family and friends, the young woman (the quinceañera), often accompanied by fifteen young men and women of her choice, (damas y chambelanes), enters the Church in procession, together with her parents and godparents. If she has prepared a reading, she may serve as the lector for at least one of the readings. After the Liturgy of the Word, the quinceañera makes a commitment to God and the Blessed Virgin to live out the rest of her life according to the teachings of Christ and the Church by renewing her Baptismal promises. Then, signs of faith (medal, Bible, rosary, prayer book) which have been blessed  may be given to her. A special blessing of the quinceañera concludes the Liturgy of the Eucharist. After Mass, the young woman is presented to the community. The ritual continues with a dinner and sometimes a dance in her honor.

Who are the participants?

The quinceañera and fifteen young men and women of her choice are joined by members of her family and friends for the celebration. The priest or deacon has a key role as the one who represents the Church and who prays the blessing over the young woman. The local community is also encouraged to gather for the celebration.

May the quinceañera take place without a Mass?

The ritual may be celebrated simply, outside Mass with the young woman, accompanied by her parents and godparents, coming before the priest or deacon to receive a special blessing in the Church. Or, there may be a more elaborate celebration with elegant clothes, flowers, music and decorations and with more than one priest presiding.

Why do parents present their daughter for this celebration?

The parents, in coming to the parish Church seeking the blessing, acknowledge that their daughter has reached the age where she is capable of handling additional responsibility. They see the quince años Mass as a way to thank God for the blessing of their daughter’s life and to seek God’s blessing and guidance as she enters adulthood. The extended family, (grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is usually present, to celebrate with the quinceañera. Esponsores (sponsors), other couples acting as sponsors, may bring forward the blessed religious articles which are presented to the quinceañera.
 
 
 
 

 
Is the rite just for girls?

According to traditional usage, La Bendición de la Quinceañera has been a celebration only for young Hispanic women. This is the practice in the countries of origin of the young women requesting the blessing. Recently, in the Western and Southwestern parts of the United States a limited number of young Hispanic males have requested this blessing for themselves. There is no basis in the traditional usage, however, for the inclusion of young men in the rite.

The celebration also can be a strengthening of the identity of the quinceañera within her family, as well as an affirmation of the gift of women as a blessing to the Church. In the Hispanic community, traditionally it has been the women who hand on the faith. The abuelita (grandmother) holds a special place in the family for that reason. Women organize feast days, celebrate rituals and offer prayers.  Hispanic women are the evangelizers and teachers of values, yet their leadership has often gone unrecognized. The Quince Años Blessing publicly acknowledges this historic role.
 
So there you have it…a quick look at the Quinceanera tradition and its origin.
I will post more images pretty soon.
 
 
Beauty Discovered.

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