Traditionally in Mexico, when a young girl turns fifteen, the party thrown is called a Quinceanera party. It is also the same term used to refer to the girl who is turning fifteen, she is the Quinceanera. It combines the two Spanish word quince, which means fifteen and anos which means years.
Even though the custom of celebrating the transition a female child makes into womanhood is one that was likely practiced in ancient times, the customs that are particularly associated with the Quinceanera party are probably dated back to the years 1876-1811, when Porfirio Diaz was president. He was well known for being captivated by anything and everything that was European, there are actually many European customs that Mexico adopted when he was president and known as el Porfiriato.
Based on Quinceanera traditions, a Quinceanera party, will usually begin at church with a mass that is called masa de Accion de Gracias, translated that is Thanksgiving Mass, at this moment the birthday girl is given thanks for making the transition from child to young woman. The attire for the birthday girl is a full-length ball gown, the color is hers to choose and she carried a bouquet to match it.
After mass is completed, the guests all head to a lavish banquet hall where a party will be held, there are times in which this is done in a tent area with rural tables and chairs from the community, the point is that the festivities are accommodated. Everywhere you will find balloons, flowers and decorations that match the birthday girls dress. There will be food, drink, music and dancing during the party, there are however also a few very special traditions that are part of the party, these however will vary from region to region.
Here are a few of the traditional elements that are found at a Quinceanera party:
Translated this would be chamberlains, these boys or young men are in charge of escorting the Quinceanera and perform a dance with her that has been choreographed, Although referred to as a waltz, the dance usually incorporates other styles of dance.
El Primer Ramo De Flores
Translated it means the first bouquet of flowers, this is something that the quinceanera is offered, these symbolize the first flowers she receives as a young woman.
La Ultima Muneca
During the festivities, the Quinceanera is presented with a doll, this is symbolic as the last doll she will ever receive. Now that she has turned fifteen, she is no longer a child and will no longer play with dolls. Part of the ritual consists of her then passing the doll on to a younger sister o other family member.
To symbolize each year of her life that has passed, the Quinceanera breaks fifteen small pinatas.
The highlight of the party is when the lavish and birthday cake that is multi-tiered is cut and family as well as guests join together to sing the birthday song that is traditionally sung; Las Mananitas to the Quinceanera.
This is a celebration that is huge in Mexico, it is one that can be quite expensive for the family. This is why it is customary for extended family as well as close family friends to contribute with either money or the things needed to make this party a dream come true for the Quinceanera.