Religious Celebration: During the quinceañera religious celebration, the quinceañera is walked down the aisle accompanied by her parents and her godparents. She is presented to the center of the Alter when it is time for the mass. After the quinceañera mass, the quinceañera can choose to do the crowning, changing of shoes, and the doll presentation. However, it is customary to do these quinceañera traditions at the reception.
Quinceañera Reception: After the religious ceremony, the festivities can begin with lots of food, drinks, and music. These quinceañera parties are usually arranged around a particular theme.
Every quinceañera reception usually includes the following:
The Introduction of the Court of Honor: To begin the festivities, the court of honor is first presented prior to the quinceañera. Each name of the court of honor is announced as they enter. This announcement is usually done with background Spanish music or a Mariachi band.
The Presentation of the Quinceañera: After the presentation of the court of honor, the quinceañera is finally introduced. A quinceañera may choose to walk in on the arm of her escort. A special song is also played for her entrance.
Crowning of the Quinceañera:
Traditionally, it is the mother that will have the honor of crowning the quinceañera. The headpiece worn by the quinceañera is to be replaced with a quinceañera tiara or crown. A scepter can also be presented to the quinceañera at the same time.
Presentation of the Last Doll: The last doll serves as a symbol that a quinceañera is no longer a child but a young woman. It serves as a symbol of maturity and it represents the last doll the young woman will receive. Traditionally, the parents or godparents are chosen to give this important gift.
Changing of the Shoes: Prior to the day of the quinceañera, it is expected that the quinceañera has not been able to wear heel shoes. Therefore, during the church ceremony, the quinceañera traditionally wears flat shoes without any heels symbolizing her child status. The flat shoes are then changed for heeled shoes "zapatos de tacon alto" at the reception. The changing of shoes is usually done following the presentation of the last doll and the shoes are changed either by the father or older brother of the quinceañera. After the shoes are changed, the quinceañera is now ready to take the first dance of the evening as a young lady. This special tradition of changing the quinceañera shoes to her zapatos elegantes is another important part of the quinceañera celebration and other way to show that the quinceañera is no longer a girl but a young woman.
The Quinceañera Waltz: The main highlight of the quinceañera is the waltz or el vals. Months of practice are spent for this special dance prior to the day of the quinceañera. In most cultures, the quinceañera first dances with her father during a specially chosen song with Spanish lyrics. Towards the end of the dance with her father, finally the quinceañera court of honor can join in the dance.
The Toast: The father usually leads the toast for the quinceañera. The master or mistress of ceremony, bandleader, or even the honor escort can also do the toast.
The Thank You: The parents of the quinceañera give thanks to the quinceañera for turning out so beautifully and also to thank God for bringing her to them. The parents of the quinceañera also give thanks to God for seeing her through every day up to her quinceañera. The quinceañera then gives thanks to her parents for everything they do as well as giving her the party. The quinceañera also gives thanks to the sponsors for their contributions and to the guests for coming.
Significance of Other Important Quinceañera Accessories:
The Tiara: Denotes a “princess” before God and the world. Also signifies a triumph over childhood and the ability to face the challenges ahead.
The Scepter: A symbol of authority and responsibility now being given to the quinceañera.
The Bracelet/Ring: Represents the never-ending circle of life. It symbolizes the unending stage of womanhood and the quinceañera abilities and future contributions.
The Earrings: A reminder to listen to the word of God and the world and to always hear and respond to the world around her.
The Cross/Medal: Signifies faith in God, in herself, and in the world.
The Bible: Important resources to keep the word of God in the life of the quinceañera.