The Journey of La Quinceañera, Statement
“It takes a village to raise a child.” The Quinceanera celebration tells such a story. It is about strength, human frailty, and yet persistent innocence in the face of a cold, hostile world. It is about family, respect for tradition. It is about loyal friendships and loving patrons and generous sponsors. This essay depicts one young lady’s symbolic transition from childhood to becoming a mature woman who is capable of independence and making her own decisions as she faces the challenges of life ahead.
In this reimagined version of these ceremonial events, I attempt to use montage to tighten the cohesion and transitions of story elements. I also wanted to convey a sense of motion, energy, innocence, and transition within the range of these sequences. I am excited about this montage hybrid version which is also with some straight photos. I feel it better accentuates the youthful energy of the day’s activities through the better use of motion, line, shapes, and forms.
My wife, Jayne, and I had the honor and privilege of attending and participating in the Quinceañera. This Mexican fiesta, De Quince Años, is a celebration of the 15th birthday of the young lady (la Quinceañera). These coming-of-age customs presented here highlight God, family, friends, music, food, and dance.
The Quinceañera celebration traditionally began with a religious ceremony. A Reception was then held in a banquet hall. The festivities included food and music, and a choreographed waltz or dance performed by la Quinceañera and her Court.
It is traditional for la Quinceañera to choose special friends to participate in what is called the Court of Honor. These young people are her closest friends – the special people in her life with whom she wants to share the spotlight.
The Quinceañera wears a ball gown, with her Court dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Guests received small tokens, cápias, to commemorate the celebration.
The basic reception has six major parts with dances taking place while a traditional Mexican meal is served.
- The formal entry (La Entrada) – A grand entrance made by the Quinceañera once most guests have been seated.
- The formal toast (El Brindis) – An optional but usually featured part of the reception, generally initiated by the parents or godparents of the birthday girl.
- The first dance – Starting with her father, and then with her mother.
- The family dance – Involving just the immediate relatives, the chambelanes, godparents, and the closest friends of the girl.
- The preferred song (Baile Sorpresa) – This particular day the surprise song included a dance with a potential suitor!
- The general dance.
Additional ceremonial items presented to la Quinceañera are listed below.
- Tiara – Denotes a “princess” before God and the world; a triumph over childhood and ability to face the challenges of life ahead.
- Cross or Medal – Signifies faith in God, in herself, and in her world, given this day by her tio, uncle.
- Ring – This day, la Quinceañera received a ring from her mother.
- Bible (or Prayer Book) – Important resources to keep the word of God in her life.
- Scepter – Symbolizes authority, and more importantly, responsibility for her life, that is now being given to the young woman.
- The first flower bouquet – The birthday girl receives a bouquet of flowers which is symbolically the first flowers she is offered as a young woman.
- The Traditional Ceremony Gifts – Special signs of loyalty and commitment to God, family and the community.
As this can become a costly event with all the prices of each ceremonial aspect adding up, the young woman may request the help of sponsors, which can be comprised of both family members and friends. It is courteous for the girl to thank her sponsors and influencers in her speech at the event to demonstrate her appreciation for all the help that they put into supporting her through this transition to womanhood.
Cultural traditions, family, friends, and religion are at the very core of what most people value in life, regardless of where in the world they may live. After all, isn’t life about the people we have encountered and with whom have shared our joys and sorrows along the way?
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