My Quinceañera Was Not a Quinceañera


Maddy Molina  I remember sitting in my grandma’s house, looking into the courtyard as my sister, wearing her billowy, pink dress, was being photographed with all of my family members. My first thought was, “She looks like a princess! I want to be like her one day.” After that, I spent ten years planning my own perfect quinceañera. I had been looking forward to celebrating my fifteenth birthday since I was five years old, inspired by the ultimate birthday bash thrown for my eldest sister. It was what every Latina girl dreams up in her head: a 4-tier cake, a banquet hall filled to capacity with close friends and family, dancing until the sun comes up, and being the center of attention for a day. I remember scribbling a guest list in my glitter notebook during math class in fourth grade and planning out the chain of events. First, I would walk in with my court of honor and open the dance floor with my chambelan (or dance escort). Up next was the inevitably awkward father-daughter dance. Then… I would lose track of planning my party and start passing notes with my friends. The point is, I had everything planned out, from the cake design to the linen colors. My mind was set on throwing the best quinceañera ever, that was, until I entered high school. It was a weird time. Middle school friendships were dissolving, money was tight, my quince was not going to happen. The solution? “Wait a year and celebrate your Sweet 16,” said my mom enthusiastically. The only problem was that a sweet sixteen didn’t have a changing of the shoe ceremony to show that I was going from a little girl to a woman, or a last doll ceremony to represent my last item as a child. Those traditions were the reason I wanted a quinceañera in the first place, besides, of course, being pampered and showered with gifts. But the day came. It was August 12th and my Sweet Sixteen was all set to start. It was meant to resemble a quinceañera, but there was no chambelan, no candle ceremony, no tiara. I wasn’t even turning fifteen. I’m not trying to say that I didn’t have fun at my party (believe me, I did!), but it wasn’t what I had imagined. The reality of the situation was that I felt like it was just another party. Quinceañeras have lost a lot of the traditions that used to be associated with them. Perhaps it’s the need to assimilate or the need to follow what everyone else at school is doing. Though I’m usually not one to follow the crowd, I think merging traditions worked out pretty well in my case. All I know is that I got a kick out of seeing my friends try to dance bachata for the first time! ]]>