The Quinceañera, or Quince años ("fifteen years" in English), in Latin American culture, is a coming of age ceremony held on a girl's fifteenth birthday. The term Quinceaños refers to the birthday of the celebrant, and the term Quinceañera refers to the celebrant herself. Like many other coming-of-age ceremonies, the Quinceaños is associated with the Quinceañera "becoming a lady".
The celebration carries religious significance for Spanish-speaking Roman Catholics. The celebration begins with a religious ceremony in which the Quinceañera affirms her faith. It is customary for the Quinceañera to receive gifts that are religious in nature, such as a cross or medal, a Bible, rosary, or scepter, and the presentation of these gifts by her Padrinos and/or her family members and their blessing by the priest often form a part of the ceremony. A Quinceañera with her court

After the conclusion of the Roman Catholic religious ceremony, a reception is held either in the Quinceañera's home or in a banquet hall. Decor of this reception often resembles that of a wedding. The Quinceañera's court is typically comprised of her padrinos (godparents) and a Chambelan, a young man who is her companion and date for the evening. The Chambelan typically has the first dance with the Quinceañera, a traditional ballroom waltz called a "Waltz". The Chambelan initiates the Vals by requesting a dance with the Quinceañera to a classical song, followed by dances with her requested by her father or another close male relative such as an uncle or older brother, and then her godfather. Following these initial presentation dances, the guests join the dance floor as well. Some Latino cultures have the girl's first dance begin with her father as her partner, and then he is cut in on by her escort. Godparents play a significant role in the preparations for the Quinceaños, often handling arrangements for the party, church and celebration. The event is the culmination of their responsibility in the church to oversee the religious upbringing of their goddaughter. It is also customary for the Quinceañera's parents to arrange everything for their daughters day.

A Quinceañera is the Hispanic tradition of celebrating a young girl's coming of age - her 15th birthday.
v Today's celebrations embrace religious customs, and the virtues of family and social responsibility. The Quinceañera tradition celebrates the young girl (la Quinceañera), and recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity. The customs highlight God, family, friends, music, food, and dance.

Interestingly, many families today are merging their Hispanic and American heritages by choosing to celebrate a Sweet Sixteen. For their Sweet 16 party, the families do the full-blown Quinceañera traditions - the religious ceremony, the reception, the tiara with the number 16, and more. We encourage families to select the customs that have special meaning to them and to add to the customs as they wish. That is what makes the celebration unique and very special.

Quinceañera traditions


The Quinceañera celebration traditionally begins with a religious ceremony. A Reception is held in the home or a banquet hall. The festivities include food and music, and in most, a choreographed waltz or dance performed by the Quinceañera and her Court.

It is traditional for the Quinceañera to choose special friends to participate in what is called the Court of Honor. Usually, these young people are her closest friends, her brothers, sisters, cousins - the special people in her life with whom she wants to share the spotlight. The Quinceañera's Court of Honor can be comprised of all young girls (called Dama), all young men (called Chambelán or Escorte or Galán) or a combination of both..
v The Quinceañera traditionally wears a ball gown, with her Court dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Guests usually receive small tokens, cápias and cerámicas, to commemorate the celebration.
  • tiara
  • cross or medal
  • Bible or prayer book and rosary
  • scepter

Other accessories for this special occasion might be:

  • flower bouquet
  • cake decoration
  • cake server set
  • champagne glasses
  • the last doll
  • guest book
  • photo album
  • invitations/reception cards
  • ceremony pillows
  • guest favors

There are many traditions throughout the Quinceañera celebration. One of the most popular is the Changing of the Shoes. The father or favored male relative ceremoniously changes the young girl's flat shoes to high heels. This is a beautiful symbol of the Quinceañera's transformation from a little girl to a young lady.

At the church ceremony, a special Kneeling Pillow, sometimes personalized with the Quinceañera's name, is placed in position for the young girl to kneel on during the ceremony. And, a touch of elegance is added with smaller decorated Ceremony Pillows for the presentation of the Quinceañera's ceremony gifts, such as the Tiara, the Scepter and the Shoes.

At the reception, there is always the toast to the Quinceañera, known as the brindis. With decorated Champagne Glasses, the guests are invited to offer their congratulations and best wishes.

The Last Doll is used as part of the ceremony or as decoration and keepsake. In some customs, the Quinceañera doll represents the last things of a child now that the Quinceañera will focus on the things of a young lady. In some Hispanic cultures, the cápias (printed ribbons with the Quinceañera's name and date) are pinned to the doll, and the Quinceañera circulates among her guests, thanking them for their presence and presenting them with a memento taken from the doll.

The Quince Años is a glorious celebration that remains a cherished and honored tradition. Yakima's Celebration Hall