If you are lucky enough to live in an area where there are many native Spanish speakers, you will have heard of a Quinceanera. But, if you’ve never dated one, you might be curious. You may even get invited to one if you have Latin American friends. This celebration is full of customs that are very special for Latin American families. You can get to know this unique tradition and learn Spanish at the same time.
Quinceanera celebrates a young girl’s 15th birthday. In Latin American culture, this age is the age when a girl leaves childhood to enter maturity. The ceremony is believed to owe its origins to the Aztecs and part of its unique vocabulary to French culture of the late 1800s. The celebration has religious significance for Spanish-speaking Roman Catholics and begins with a thanksgiving mass, or misa de accion. de gracis, to thank his family and friends. But the celebration is also a very special birthday party, so much of the celebration also includes giving gifts and enjoying food and dancing together. This makes the celebration a wonderful way to learn about the tradition and the Spanish language associated with it.
Here are some distinctive vocabulary and why you need to learn it:
Quince anos = 15 years or 15 years
This is the time of coming of age for girls in Latin culture.
Young male companion = Chambelan, or Escort, or Galan
Seven young males of the court = Chambelanes
Seven ladies of the court = Damas
The court of ladies and men, including the quinceanera girl, is 15.
Traditional hall waltz = Vals
A choreographed dance performed by the Court of Honor, often with European classical music.
Godfathers = Godfathers
The girl’s godparents often give the main gifts, but guests invited to the event also bring gifts that reflect the girl’s personality. Although the event has religious rituals, it is also a large party designed to include as many friends and family as possible.
Gifts and entertainment are an expected part of the day.
Primary gifts are symbols for life. The girl wears a tiara to represent the abandonment of her childhood and live a life in victory over the challenges of her adult environment, receives a bracelet or a ring to represent the circle of life and its ties with her community, receives earrings as a reminder to listen to the word of God and a rosary or a prayer book as religious resources.
Tiara = tiara, symbol of victory
Cross = cruz, or medal = medal, symbols of faith
Bible = The Biblia
Scepter = center, symbol of elegance
Shoes = los zapatos
The guest of honor will initially wear flat shoes and will be presented with a pair of elegant high-heeled shoes to represent that she has entered the woman. Her mother will often change the girl’s shoes for her, in a special ritual at the party.
The last doll = the last muneca
The celebrant receives her last doll to symbolize the abandonment of childhood.
The toast to the girl of honor = El brindis por la quinceanera
This toast is part of the common rituals at the birthday party.
These are some of the traditional basics when it comes to a Quinceanera, but if you want to learn more, there are hundreds of online resources for you to review. There are, of course, hundreds of variations on the theme. You will find that some websites offer English to Spanish translations for their pages. This is a great resource for learning Spanish because you can compare the English and Spanish versions on the spot.
Now, if the invitation to participate reaches you, you will be able to participate knowing that you have learned some basic Spanish vocabulary and ready to use. All you need is a gift and your best outfit, and you’ll be ready for the party!
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