A Modern Quinceañera

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Abstract: The Quinceañera also known as quince is a huge milestone in Hispanic culture as it is the right of passage for a girl to become a woman. This is the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday and the meaning behind it has been adapted as time goes on. Initially, it was a ceremony to show that a girl is ready for marriage and to travel the path of motherhood but the ceremony now is more of a transition to dating. The ceremony consists of a few customs such as the girl attending a mass with their godparents and family witness the transition. Later at the dinner, a waltz is performed as a formality and the changing of the girl’s shoes into heels.

Background: H is a student at the University of Southern California who’s experienced this traditional ceremony from her transition into womanhood. She’s lived in California her entire life and is a first-generation American and her family keeps many of their traditions from Mexico alive in her life.  She believes that the way her Quince was conducted is very traditional but also has a few twists that are uncommon to the format. The topic was brought up during lunch while discussing our family roots.

Transcript:

P: So tell me about an event that you think defines your culture and has influenced your growth.

H: My Quince! It was so much fun but it definitely wasn’t as traditional as some would have one of those was I didn’t wear the big dress because my parents wanted to surprise me with a large celebration so that would’ve ruined it and also because of this I didn’t have a chamberlain or a court but we did do a dance my family and myself and it was a lot of fun. Some of the traditions we did follow were we have a mariachi come to my house and play in the backyard and we did attend a mass to stick with the traditions of a quince. We also had a beautiful cake and we had a small ceremony where I put on heels to show that I’m growing up. It was so much fun being with my family. 

Interpretation:This seems to be a fun example of the modernization of a popular tradition where some of the key distinctions are preserved but some of the more outdated elements are omitted from the day. For example, the big dress which is meant to show that a girl is flowering out into a woman wasn’t required for her party since she went with a more mature modern dress which still has the same effect of showing a girl growing up. Second, she didn’t have a small court but rather she spend her time with her family which just shows that women being escorted by men is a bit outdated, and rather the party should show the enjoyment of being in the company of your family. However, the essence of her culture was maintained since she had her whole family with her and they ate a traditional Hispanic dinner while listening to cultural music. For more information of Quinceanera visit this source: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Quinceañera.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 12 Aug. 2019, www.britannica.com/topic/quinceanera.