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Sweet Sixteen


       Originally a Hispanic tradition, the “Sweet 16” is embraced by American families, particularly in the south.  Sweet sixteen’s mix traditional ceremonies with a party atmosphere to show off a special, beloved daughter.  This party is an important rite of passage marking the transition from child to woman.   The sweet sixteen celebrations put the birthday girl in the starring role.   Symbolic ceremonies are performed during the traditional sweet sixteen’s ball, where a formal evening dress is worn and a program of events is drawn up.

Sweet Sixteen’s Candle Ceremony

The 16 candles on the cake are lit by the birthday girl.  Each one represents a special person in her life.  According to tradition, the girl lights the candles on her cake, naming each person, and saying why they are important in her life.  Some important people include parents and grandparents, siblings, special friends and the final candle is traditionally reserved for a boyfriend or another special male friend.


Shoe and Crown Ceremonies

The “Changing of the Shoes” ceremony is particularly symbolic of the coming of age.  The Birthday girl has flat shoes, symbolizing a little girl, which is changed by her father, who swaps them for the high heels of a lady.  The crowning ceremony normally follows the changing of the shoes. The sweet sixteen crown, or tiara, traditionally has the number 16 in its center.  The crowning ceremony is performed by the parents or godparents.  The headdress that is worn with the formal ball gown is removed being replaced with a tiara or crown.


Father-Daughter Dance

The Father-Daughter dance is an important tradition.  This special Waltz is the first dance of the celebration.  A formal sweet sixteen party may include a court of honor for the birthday girl.  In this case, the court members may join her for the second dance with a specially choreographed performance.


The Toast

The father or grandfather usually leads the toast for the sweet 16.


The Thank You

First, the parents of the Birthday girl give thanks to their daughter for turning out to be so beautiful.  In addition, they thank God for bringing her to them and for seeing her through every day.  The birthday girl then follows by thanking her parents for everything they do and for throwing her an amazing party. After, she then gives thanks to her friends and family for attending her special day.

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