Quinceañeras and
Sweet 16 Celebrations

What is a Quinceañera and Sweet 16 celebration?

In Latin American cultures, a Quinceañera is the biggest celebration for a girl, in transition from childhood to womanhood. In the U.S this pivotal moment is celebrated as the Sweet Sixteen. Both symbolize maturity, responsibility and coming-of-age..


How is a Quinceañera and Sweet 16 celebrated?

The transition from childhood to womanhood is an important event in almost any culture. Hispanics, however, mark this memorable occasion with the celebration of a Quinceañera or Sweet 15. The Quinceañera tradition is believed to have started many years ago when the Spanish conquerors brought the tradition to Mexico and others say the tradition originated with the Aztecs. Regardless, a Quinceañera celebration is a Hispanic tradition associated with Mexican, central and South American cultures. Through the different ceremonies that take place today, the young Quinceañera is formally introduced to society and it is a day to give thanks for having reached this age.

  The coordination of the entire Quinceañera event is a teamwork effort of family, friends and relatives. Very strong family ties come into play. It is customary that all these family, friends and relatives will volunteer to be padrinos or sponsors. Each sponsor takes financial and/or moral responsibility over what they have been assigned including the cake, invitations, favors, doll, bible, rosary, etc.or crinolina underneath to make the dress look extra puffy, and a Crown or Tiara along with her gloves. In the United States the dress is most commonly of white color, while in other countries such as Mexico it is very common to see the Quinceañera wear a pastel color dress or even red, royal blue, or burgundy.


Some of the Traditions

Shoe Changing Ceremony

Originally popular with the Hispanic culture, the shoe-changing ceremony has begun to cross over to the sweet 16 celebrations in America. The birthday girl sits in the middle of the room, and either her father or grandfather will bring a pair of heels into the room and change her flats to the heels. This is symbolic of her walking into womanhood.

Tiara & Ring Ceremony

This can be done either with or without the shoe-changing ceremony. Again, either the grandfather or father will bring out the crown or the ring and present it to the birthday girl to celebrate her womanhood.

Candle Lighting Ceremony

Ceremony of lighting the fifteen candles upon her cake takes place in different places according to the region. In South Florida, the lighting commonly takes place at the party where as in other regions it seems to vary, sometimes in the church but other times at the party. The common manner for the ceremony in when held in the church is for the Quinceañera to take the candle of her light and light her parents candles, which they in turn use to light the candles of their parents and so on. More commonly now, as society has us starting families later and with families spread out so thinly over large areas, the candle lighting ceremony takes place during the party. During the party 15 guests, usually family members or very close friends of the family are called up to light the candles and a specially prepared dedication is said for each of the named guests.

Father-Daughter Dance

The father has the first dance with daughter to represent the change in the birthday girl's relationship with her parents. It also symbolizes how she now needs less guidance and care. After the dance, the father then hands her over to her friends for a group dance and leaves the dance floor.