In many countries birthdays are important. But in Latin countries, there is a birthday called "Los Quinceaños," the 15th birthday. It's not like any other birthday. This is different.
There are special clothes for Los Quinceaños. The girl who is 15 years old wears a big, long, smooth, beautiful pink dress. It's almost like a wedding dress. She wears a crown of flowers or anything she wants to put in her hair. Her shoes are the same color as her dress, too.
The family plans a big party. One of the fun parts is getting 14 girls and 14 boys for the dancing part at the party. It's not a regular dance. They have to practice it so they can dance it at the party in front of everyone who is invited. Maybe they have to practice for a couple of weeks so they can be ready for the big show.
The boys and girls have to be in pairs to make 14 couples. With the birthday girl (La Quinceañera) that means there are 15 couples. The girl has to get a partner too and it could be her father.
While the couples are practicing their dance, the family is getting everything ready like buying the cake, the food, and drinks. They have to arrange the place where the party is going to be, prepare the guest list, buy La Quinceañera her 15th birthday ring, and of course plan the church service.
Before they go to the party, they have to take La Quinceañera to church because it's good luck and to bless the birthday girl. Guests don't have to go to this part of the celebration if they don't want to.
After the guests get inside the place of the party, first they call the 14 couples by their names, one by one. After they have called all the couples everybody waits for La Quiceañera to get in to start the dance they been practicing. The only people that should be dancing are the 14 couples and La Quinceanera.
They make a circle for La Quinceañera and her partner so they can dance in the middle of every one. At the end of the dance they play music so everybody can dance and enjoy the party. They dance till they get tired of dancing. Before everyone leaves the party, they cut the cake and take pictures of La Quinceañera and her family and friends. After everyone leaves, La Quinceañera has to open her presents and begin living with the beautiful memory of her Quinceaños.
Here in the U.S. most of the people who celebrate this birthday try to keep the spirit of La Quinceañera and try to do everything the same way in our country. But some people can't do it maybe because they don't have enough money or they are too busy. But still we try to keep it like an important celebration.
Copyright Silver International Newspaper 2000 (This page was created by Aissata Soumah and Narema Alli)