Quinceañera celebrates 15th birthday

Kate Beaman, reporter

Freshman Nataly Alvarado walked into her traditional Mexican Quinceañera in a beautiful, red ball gown ready to celebrate her 15th birthday with family and friends.
“A Quinceañera is a Mexican tradition, and it is a celebration of becoming a woman. It was so fun, and I invited a lot of friends from school and church. I also invited my whole family and some of my mom’s friends,” Alvarado said.
A Quinceañera is represented her transition from girlhood to womanhood, and the celebration held true to many important traditions. This included a father-daughter dance, a choreographed waltz, a cake cutting ceremony, toasts to the guest of honor, and many more. Another important tradition is the surprise dance. This is done with the Court of Honor, which consists of damas (girls) and chamberlains (boys) chosen by the guest of honor.
“Some of the traditions in a Quinceañera are to have a ceremony, dance with your dad and friends that helped plan it and have a surprise dance no one knows about. The surprise dance was really stressful because I didn’t know how to dance and my chamberlains, which are escorts, didn’t either. Also, dancing in front of everyone was making it worse,” Alvarado said.
Traditionally, the dances are choreographed by a professional ahead of time. It includes the guest of honor and the court chosen by her, typically made up of seven damas and seven chamberlains. The dance with the escorts was hard for everyone but was successful.
“It was pretty stressful because when the dance came, it felt like we did not have enough practice. We keep having to add new parts to the dances, and the person teaching us did not speak very good English which all made it more stressful. And in all, we only had like eight hours to practice both dances,” freshman Josh Carroll said.
At a Quinceañera, the guest of honor receives gifts. These can include religious relics, a tiara, jewelry and a pair of heels. Each has a different meaning and are presented by someone important in the girl’s life.
“So the traditions are giving the girl that is turning 15 high heels/Cinderella shoes, a Bible, a last toy, a ring, 15 roses and a crown,” senior Angel Quintaro said.
Alvarado’s youth group leader who is a GHS science teacher gave an important gift.
“I gave her the last doll, which represents her transition from childhood to womanhood. It’s the last time you’ll get a doll. Nataly doesn’t like dolls so her mom got her a teddy bear with a matching dress and tiara. It was an honor,” Mrs. Aimee Richotte said.
The dress worn is an important part of the Quinceañera. Traditionally, the guest of honor wears an extravagant ball gown.
“I did not want a big Mexican dress that costs a lot of money. My family also did not want to spend tons of money either. One of my mom’s friends used to make wedding dresses in Mexico so she helped put together my dress,” Alvarado said.
The Quinceañera was an exciting environment and ultimately a great experience for everyone involved.
“The best part was seeing everyone having fun. Even the parents were dancing and having fun. I’m really thankful for everyone who was there, and I’m glad people I care about and love were there to spend that special day with me,” Alvarado said.