Sweet 16

The celebrant

The celebrant

Saturday was the 16th birthday of our neighbor’s youngest daughter, Celine.

It was her Sweet Sixteen Party. I read somewhere that families nowadays here in the US combines the traditional Mexican quinceanera with the 16th birthday as a daughter’s coming out celebration.

This is my first to attend one and am glad to have experienced it. I didn’t realize how filled with significance and symbolism this celebration is.

She walked down the aisle with her very proud father

She walked down the aisle with her very proud father


It all started with a mass in her honor in a church nearby attended by her families, godparents and friends. It was like a mini-wedding except there was only one person. The celebrant wore her ball gown and the church was decorated with flowers, white carpet and an arch. During the ceremony she was also given a bible, a rosary, candle, a cross and a tiara. The priest emphasized on her the importance of her faith and prayers.
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From there we drove to the reception. The hall and tables were likewise decorated beautifully. Some Hispanic ladies who sat with us explained to us the significance of quinceanara – that it is the end of a girl’s childhood and is now entering into adulthood. We were told that some families give more significance to this event than a girl’s wedding sometimes and would have a lavish and extravagant celebration.

Like in a wedding Celine had a female court or damas made up of her closest friends. They too wore gowns that reflected the color theme of the celebrant – red and black. Celine was radiant and beautiful, same with her court.


The guests also received tokens/mementos from her. She also gifted her friends. After a speech from her parents and closest girl friend, the girls presented a choreographed number. There was also a father-daughter dance. Well I must say, the father did this part extremely well and could dance just as well as the younger daughter.
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Later, the daughter returned to her mom her First Doll and was given the Last Doll which is kept as a memento of her past 15 years and signifying her changing role. The father is supposed to present her new shoes to replace her flat shoes but this time her mom did the honor. She is now a young lady ready to face the world.

Religion, food, dancing and lots of cheers and tears – I love them. I wish we keep these beautiful traditions – they are important reminders of our culture, of where we came from and who we are wherever we are.

Celine is very well loved and I could imagine her having a bright future.

365 Project: Day 275

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16 Responses to Sweet 16

  1. This is so interesting. I’m glad you shared. I really knew nothing of this celebration but i have seen girls this age dressed like this at parks getting their pictures done. I can now put the two together.

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  2. Beautiful blog and photos Lou that captured the essence of the celebration, Celine’s coming out of age, she is a beautiful young lady, well mannered and a dog lover, like me.

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  3. Amy says:

    Beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing the joy of the special celebration!

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  4. Sue Slaght says:

    What a tradition! It looks like an amazing party and celebration. A wonderful gallery of photos for her to remember this day by.

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  5. bebs1 says:

    Just like in a wedding, they have their maids of honor and escorts and many do location shootings. The quinceneara I believe is very common among Hispanics. In the Philippines we have the 18th birthday or debut which am sure we took from the old moneyed traditions here. But nowadays the young ones parlay this tradition to traveling to Europe or do something more adventurous. Debuts are more common here among Fil-American families. Just like our South American counterparts the extent of the party is almost always dictated by the social and financial ranking of the family.

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  6. bebs1 says:

    Thanks for taking me along. I enjoyed the experience.

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  7. bebs1 says:

    Thanks Amy. They are a very photogenic family it’s hard to take a bad photo.

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  8. bebs1 says:

    Thank you Sue. They hired a professional photographer, am sure she’ll have wonderful photos to pass on to her later generation. A nice tradition you could always look back to.

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  9. Poor fathers! Hit with this (looks an amazon event) and then a few years later a wedding.

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  10. bebs1 says:

    I think many couples now save for their weddings especially if the parents do not have the means which gives some relief to the fathers (parents). Or they contribute or pick up the tab for something they could afford like the flowers or the reception but not the whole thing.

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  11. cyardin says:

    I knew nothing of this tradition. Thanks for the post. Looks like the Sweet 16 had a blast.

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  12. bebs1 says:

    The quinceneara is a special occasion among the Mexicans. I don’t know about the other Latin countries. Yes did have a blast, it was special to all of them and her friends.

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  13. Imelda says:

    This is very interesting. this reminds me of the debut back home except that this one is richer in symbolism and religious significance.

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  14. bebs1 says:

    I agree. I was surprised by the significance of the event. In the Philippines it is purely social.

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  15. bebs1 says:

    Yes, she did!

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