A Celebration of Womanhood

Lured by the smell of authentic tacos or a desire to learn about Latino culture and tradition, about 30 students, faculty and community members gathered in the Diversity Achievement Center on Friday, March 2, for a presentation about the history, traditions and details of everything Quinceñera.

The presentation was given by Perla Pulido and Jennifer Hernandez. Accompanying the speakers were two models showing off the elegant and elaborate traditional Quinceñera dresses.

A Quinceñera is a sort of coming of age party for Latina girls, signifying the transition between childhood and womanhood. On their 15th birthday, many Latina girls adorn themselves in beautiful dresses, participate in a ceremony and then celebrate with family and friends.

“My Quinceñera was shared with my mother’s wedding which made it very special,” said Pulido. Quinceñeras come in many varieties and each means something special to each girl.

Traditionally, the event is religious in character and the young girl (la Quinceñera) participates in a ceremony and is blessed by a Catholic priest. After the ceremony the la Quinceñera is accompanied by her “court” of 15 male friends and 15 female friends.

Choreographed dances are learned by the court and performed for the crowd to enjoy.

The planning and preparation is often more complex and elaborate than getting ready for a wedding. Godparents, sponsors, friends and family share the cost to create this one, beautiful day that will propel a girl into womanhood.

It is not uncommon for a party to cost up to $20,000 with expensive venues, delicious catering and perhaps several hundred guests. Hernandez explained that the “tradition has recently become more mainstream” and that Reality TV shows have distorted the importance and meaning of the event and accentuated the drama. While the drama may be present in some situations, overall the tradition is respected and honored.

Throughout and after the presentation the audience asked questions and shared their personal experiences with Quinceñeras. The audience members were interactive and wanted to know more about the cost, traditions and family imput. Some members shared about their own Quinceñera and how their family had put the whole event together.

While the specific details may change for each party and family, the sentiment is the same. Quinceñera is a beautiful celebration of the transition from childhood to womanhood, celebrated with the support and love of friends and family.