Feliz Quinceañera!

by Katherine Noll; photos by Patricia Canavan
March 01, 2013

For a young girl in Latino society, her 15th birthday is a rite of passage into young womanhood. The formal Quinceañera ceremony, with all the traditions and colorful gowns, was replicated by students from Spanish classes on March 1.

"The students are all assigned roles," Professor of Spanish Sandra Del Cueto said before the start of the event. "Someone plays the Quinceañera girl, while other students play her friends, siblings, mother and father. I tell them to invite their relatives, parents and children to make it very family-like, which a true Quinceañera is."

The students have been looking forward to it for weeks, Del Cueto added. "They bring in their own food and take care of all the elements of the celebration, including getting dressed up. I didn't recognize them!"

The event started with the processional. The Quinceañera girl's friends and family enter in a specific order, some carrying symbolic items:  a decorative number 15, a doll which symbolizes the transformation from a girl into a young woman, high heels, and a tiara, which represents eternal life. Finally, the Quinceañera girl, wearing a white dress, enters with her escort.

She sits in a special chair with her family and friends gathered around her. The tiara is placed on her head before her father takes off her shoes and replaces them with the high heels, which symbolizes his acceptance of his daughter's changing from a girl to a woman. He then presents his daughter to the audience, escorting her around the room before the two have their first dance together, a waltz.

Del Cueto notes that she has about one student in each class who has experienced their own or a close relative's Quinceañera.

"One student brought in pictures from his sister's Quinceañera and shared them with the class," she said.

Come watch the next Quinceañera celebrations on Tuesday, March 5, at 12:30 p.m. and again at 2 p.m. in the Lipkin Theatre Lobby at Main Campus.

To view more photos from this event, visit NCC's Flickr gallery.


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