Last weekend the Latino SST group attended a Quinceañera celebration in Niles, Michigan. The Quinceañera is a coming of age ceremony and celebration held on a girl’s fifteenth birthday. A Quinceañera celebration can be comparable in scope to weddings. There is a significant dress, just as with a wedding. Family members attend a special mass, again just like a wedding but with a few modifications. They have a grand meal, and often a DJ or live band is hired for the evening. Additionally, the Quinceañera will wear flat shoes and will be presented with a pair of elegant, high heels to signify a girl becoming a woman. One of the padrinos or Godparents will make a presentation of a porcelain doll to the Quinceañera, symbolizing the last doll she will ever receive; another representation of moving forward toward womanhood. In addition, the Quinceañera has chambelanes (male friends or family members around her age, called the court of honor) that dance a special dance called El Vals or Waltz dance. Usually, the father will begin the first dance with the Quinceañera, where he could also be the one to hand down ‘the last doll.’ The Quinceañera may decide to prepare a special “surprise” dance ahead of time to perform it that night, something that has become more modern on the tradition. The Latino SSTers were able to experience the rituals and traditions of this grand celebration first hand.
— — Quinceañera – Traditional Celebrations