La Quinceañera

Nellely Azpeitia , Editor-in-chief

Entering high school is an intense and difficult transition within itself: for numerous young Latinas, it is also the year of yet another life-changing moment — their quinceañera. A quinceañera is the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday: it marks the passage from childhood to adulthood. On this special day, everything is perfect and well-organized; however, there are months of prepping prior to the day and lots of work behind the scenes the day of.

Dozens of people work to organize the special event: there are the padrinos that aid financially and physically, there are family members lending a hand, there are friends that offer help in any way and guests that also contribute to organize or clean up. But most of the weight lies on the parents of the quinceañera, they are the ones asking for help and speaking to the services for the party as well as a religious celebration.

Freshmen Brenda Mejia explains the process of her special day and the importance of it.

“The day itself was stressful and the days leading up to it consumed our evenings with: not having an outfit for my surprise dance, to making more decorations, to going to practice more frequently and stretching the hours of practice— it was a lot. The only surprise to me was the many people that came and shared the special day with me and those that went out of there way to help my parents in whatever they needed. The most important part for me was getting to dance with my parents, telling them how much I love them and appreciate them for everything they do for me. During my quinceañera it was a goal of mine to greet everyone and thank them for being able to attend because it meant everything to me,” said Mejia.

Family members that helped serving the rice, mole and carnitas.

The main salon for Mejia’s party filled with pink and white colors that reflected her dress, there were flowers and lights, and the tables were decorated. In each entrance, an enlarged framed picture of Mejia in her quinceañera dress welcomed the guests. The Mexican banda set up in the far center of the event place and the dessert bar laid to its left with a variety of sweets. All the guests ate, listened to music and engaged in conversation — more than 400 people attended. But entering the back room towards the kitchen, dozens of family members, friends, and the quinceañeras’ parents hurried in and out. There were people making handmade tortillas, people serving rice, mole, and carnitas, someone was cutting the barbacoa, and countless people grabbed the plates to serve them to guests outside. However, all the helpers were wearing smiles and working nonstop.

A helper who cut the barbacoa comments on his contribution to the event and its significance.

One of the helpers preparing the barbacoa for the guests.

“I’m friends with the [quinceañera’s] parents since we were young and lived in Mexico. They helped my wife and I with our daughters’ quinceañera and it is important to return the favor. I also care about the quinceañera, it is crucial she is happy on her special day. I’m cutting the barbacoa, not many people like to do it because it is difficult but I’ve done it before. My family and I are simply trying to help as much as possible, ” said the helper at the quinceañera.

Although the celebration revolves around the quinceañera, it is also a day of hard work behind the scenes and representation of its significance to Latin American and Mexican culture.