Wednesday, July 4, 2007


In my last post I promised I would go more into the quinceanera parties and all they entail. A promise is a promise. Today I'm going to write about a quinceanera, what it means, the traditions and all the hoopla. Lets first start off by me saying, I did not get a quinceanera. Another story for another time.

Anyway, a quinceanera is a party that is usually very extravagant, very colorful and last but certainly not least; very, very expensive. Well, I take that back, it can be very expensive, which most are or it can be at the other end of the financial spectrum. Most are expensive though. Latinos like to spoil their daughters and nothing is too good for their little princesas. Especially if they are not paying for the items themselves.

In the Latino community, when a girl reaches her 15th birthday, there is a celebration that takes place called a quinceanera. It marks the transition from girlhood to womanhood. They are given a doll which is her last childhood doll, like the one I have pictured here.

The quinceanera is like a poor-man's version of a debutante ball. Many families save for years to pay for it all on their own or, as the majority do, they have sponsors that they call "padrinos" which mean godparents. The majority of these fantastic parties are usually sponsored by family members or close friends. Depending on what the teenager in question wants, there are padrinos for the dress, the cake, the dance hall, the tiara, the shoes, the flowers, the church, the scepter, etc.

As I stated earlier, the expenses of this gala are extravagant. The parents of the girl spare no expense, especially when they're spending others' money. That's always fun, I'm sure. They usually start years in advance with the planning. Some of these parties rival the fancy weddings and receptions that go on for days. Being of Latino ancestry, I secretly have thought that it was just another excuse for the adults, and maybe a few teens, to get drunk.

The dresses are usually very fancy and can cost hundreds and as much as several thousand dollars. The most popular colors are pastels in blue, yellow or pink. That depends on what the birthday girl prefers. They used to be tailor made but now that there are quinceanera stores in large numbers, especially in Texas, most are off the rack. The cakes are several tiers tall and are ornate and majestic-looking. Almost always, these cakes have some kind of filling. Strawberry and pineapple are very popular. They taste as good as they look too. Unlucky for those of us that tend to be on the hippy side...and I don't mean the hippie, either.

The girl then chooses "damas" and "chambelanes" which is equivalent to a bridal party. Usually, these number right at 14 couples with the quinceanera or birthday girl and her partner being the 15th couple. Thus making it a "Fifteen" party....brilliant, isn't it? These girls and their male partners are teens as well. Now, these couples each have to get their own matching gowns for the event and the boys have to wear tuxedos, usually the common black and white for the guys. Some choose the tuxedos with tails and if that is the case, they must all wear them. No droopy, over-sized jeans at this event. Sorry, homies. No shirt, no shoes, no fiesta.

We must not forget to get the padrinos for the limo service. My cousin, spoiled brat that she was, had limos for all her entourage, I think my aunt might still be paying on that. The parents then either pay or get someone else to pay for the band that will be playing the music. Nobody, but nobody wants to be the godparents for the band because it is not cheap. You also have to book months and sometimes years in advance if you are having a real popular band. Some choose a big band/group that is internationally known and well you can imagine the dollar signs that come to mind. It is about this time that I am happy that we are not full-blooded Latino.

Once everything is in place and the church paid for and the party is within a couple days or so, the entire party does the practice thing. What I don't get is, what are they practicing for? Everyone will be too drunk by the time the party starts that it won't matter if you are dancing right or making a jack-ass of yourself. Nobody will remember what you did. Nobody will remember what they did.

Even though they do send out invitations, nobody really forgets because everybody and their neighbor is involved in getting this party to come together. Since everyone is pitching in, in cases where the parents are too broke (which is all too often the case) to pay for the whole thing, they will all be there --guaranteed, with bells on.

On the day of the party the quinceanera wakes up extra early for all the hoopla of getting ready. Makeup, hair, dress, etc. If they are lucky, the entire party will be ready and there will be no mishaps. Sometimes, though, there are glitches and a couple got into a fight and don't want to go; this isn't very often though because they paid a kings ransom to get their outfits.

The quinceanera and all her family and their friends families go to the church, she is usually catholic or claims to be just to have her party. After that takes place, they all go to the reception hall, which hopefully has been all decked out now with the flowers and the party favors and the cake and all. If all goes well, the band will already be set up. The quinceanera will dance the first dance with her father, it is usually the Vals de los quince anos, which loosely translated means "the waltz of the 15 years" totally Mensa material, huh? After she does that dance the wild bunch that came to the party join in. They dance, eat and party all evening until the wee hours of the morning or until their money runs out and the band goes home.

There will be more booze than they have in all of Scotland and tons of expensive gifts for the birthday girl with a few dollar store cheapo items. The photographer will take pictures of everyone and everything because after all, the more he takes the more he makes.

Everyone will go home in their low-riders, the tuxedos will be long forgotten and the parents or godparents will have credit card bills to remind them of this fiasco for months, maybe years, to come. The birthday girl will have pictures of her party and ammunition for black-mailing for the rest of her life. It's a long standing tradition. One, I'm glad to say, is not practiced in my immediate family.

So, no, my little princesita Tiffany, you will not be getting a quinceanera party, you will, however, get a birthday cake. A chocolate one, your favorite flavor. I can even go the extra mile and make it myself...oh, double layer, problem. Betty Crocker, I'll do you proud. I promise.

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