Quinceañeras: Growing Into Adulthood
What is it like to turn 15 in Mexico.
December 9, 2018 - Mexico
Fifteen years old; what a joy! Many people don’t fully realize the cultural importance of turning 15 in Mexican society. As in many cultures, a certain age marks the passage from childhood to adolescence. For young Mexican women, that number is 15.
There are many theories on the origin of this celebration. Some say it is prehispanic; the Mayans and Aztecs celebrated the youths’ entrance to adulthood and the acceptance of new responsibilities. For men, it meant becoming warriors. And for women, being eligible for marriage.
Influenced by European traditions, and even Grimm’s fairy tales!, on their 15th birthday girls become fairies in the flesh, princesses of their teen world, and the queens of their household and families for a day. At NPH Mexico, we are thrilled.
Recently, 37 young ladies celebrated their fifteenth birthday; one of the largest days and most splendid celebrations of their lives so far. Our girls dream of this moment each year, when they get to see their older NPH sisters reach this age and celebrate with their NPH family.
It all begins with the dresses. They arrive at our offices in batches. A store donates 10, another one gives 3, kind donors send in 10 more, etc. It is a display of color, tulle, satin and lace. Whenever they can, a small group of girls sneak away to try and take a quick glimpse at the pile of dresses…and maybe choose the color or style of their dreams.
With 37 girls celebrating this momentous occasion this year, we could hardly imagine throwing that many parties equal to the importance and celebration they each deserve. So every November, we set aside one big day for all of the girls to celebrate as family.
In the morning, students from a local beauty academy arrive ready to help the ladies with incredible hairdos and make up. Can you imagine how they feel when they look in the mirror, seeing themselves transformed like Cinderellas in the gown of their dreams? They are finally ready to appear before their NPH family and their relatives.
They enter the chapel with their chamberlains, dressed in suits and ties, many for the first time! Mass is offered in their honor and all the children and our staff give thanks for the blessing of these young women and for them having reached this great new stage in their lives.
And then the waltz, which they have practiced many times. Some of the steps are complicated, with the boys at times lifting the girls into the air in artistic twists and steps. Can you imagine how these young princesses feel dancing their first waltz?
They all look and feel like fairytale princesses, and they have every right to feel that way. God bless and congratulations to our 37 young women this year!