Every culture has different traditions. In the U.S., we have Sweet Sixteens, and in the Latino culture, we have quinceañeras.

Quinceañeras are a rite of passage for fifteen-year-old girls (also referred to as quinceañera) who are going from a little girl to a young woman. Some families also celebrate the quinceañerea when their daughters turn 16, but still celebrate quinceañera style. People that celebrate this might switch it up due to their religion and/or their beliefs, but the celebrations include the same things.

Planning a quinceañera is a long process; people usually start planning 3-4 months in advance considering everything from the dress, to the color, to what kind of dances she wants. Many companies have quinceañera expos where they show dresses, cakes, invitations, decorations, and basically anything you need for your dream party. Here in Minnesota, El Nuevo Rodeo (located in Minneapolis) has a quinceañera expo every year around the end of January, beginning of February.

One of the most important things involved in a quinceañera are the dances the girl will be doing. Usually, there are 3-5 dances which include:

  • Entrance dance
  • Main waltz
  • Father-daughter dance
  • Surprise dance

There will also be a coronation, where the quinceañera will receive her last doll, her crown, a change of shoes, and a surprise gift – usually given by the parents or the godparents. The last doll, and the shoe change (flats/sneakers to high heels) are another way of showing that this is her growing up from a little girl to a young woman. The crown is given not only so the quinceañera feels like a princess, but to show that you are the princess within your family.

Once the coronation is over, the quinceañera will usually have a surprise dance, where she and her court perform a choreographed dance which usually involves an outfit change and the use of props. Once the surprise dance is over, the real dancing begins.

Quinceañeras are a very important tradition in a young Latina’s life. Mine was a day I will never forget.

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