The transition from childhood to womanhood is a significant passage for adolescent girls in almost all cultures. In Mexico, it is marked with thecelebration of the Quinceañera, or 15th Birthday. From a north-of-the-border viewpoint, it may be seen as a cross between Sweet Sixteen and a debutante'scoming out party. The celebration is a way to acknowledge that a young womanhas reached sexual maturity and is thus of a marriageable age.
That's why you may be surprised to find out that the fastest growing segment of the wedding business is not brides but Quinceneras! This rapidly growing audience gives bridal vendors like YOU an exciting opportunity to increase
your sales and tap into an expanding and profitable market. Costs for quinceanera celebrations average 10,000-15,000 (and the numbers are increasing every year,) and include the same full-range of services used by
brides. From cakes and photography to gowns and catering, quinceneras need it all!
And just like a wedding, this coming out party is a once in a lifetime event. The birthday girl is decked out to the nines, flanked by her parents and padrinos (godparents) and she may be accompanied by several damas (maids of honor) and chambelanes (chamberlains), selected from among close family and friends.
The origins of Mexico's quinceañera celebrations remain obscure, although the roots may well lie in the era of the Aztecs. According to Bernardino de Sahagun, in his chronicle Historia de Nueva España, it was traditional for the parents of a young Aztec maiden to formally acknowledge her passage into womanhood. This included a stern but tender exhortation to observe acceptable modes of behavior. For a full English translation of the passage "Advice of an Aztec Mother to her Daughter" see William H. Prescott's The Conquest of Mexico.
Regardless of how the tradition originated, the celebration of the quinceañera remains as one of the rites of passage that keeps the bonds of the Mexican family firmly cemented. Its fancy frills and frosted cakes linger as delicious ingredients for a niña's sweet dreams.