The Celebration of the Quinceañera
Quinceañera, sometimes called fiesta de quince años, fiesta de quinceañera, quince años or simply quince, is the celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of people from Latin America. This birthday is celebrated differently from any other birthday, as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. The celebration, however, varies significantly across countries, with celebrations in some countries taking on, for example, more religious overtones than in others.
The Quinceañera celebration has all of the grandeur of a large church wedding, and begins with the Misa de accion de gracias (thanksgiving Mass). The girl being honored ("quinceanera") arrives in church dressed in a fancy full-length gown, usually white or pale pink in color, together with a matching headdress and an elaborate bouquet. She is accompanied by her parents, godparents and members of her "Court", consisting of several young women called damas (maids of honor) and several young men called chamberlains (escorts).
At the conclusion of the mass, the quinceanera places her bouquet on the altar and the girl's family and friends pass out small commemorative favors to the guests in attendance. All then proceed to a banquet hall for a festive dinner and dance reception.
After a sumptuous feast, the music and dancing begins. The first dance is a waltz danced with the quinceanera and her father. Next, members of her Court are introduced and then the godparents have their first dance. The dance floor is then opened for all guests, with men taking turns dancing with the quinceanera.