In many Latin American cultures, the quinceañera, though it does not always go by that name, is an important rite of passage into adulthood for young women. The word quinceañera literally means “one who is fifteen,” and, traditionally, the quinceañera celebration is held on a girl’s fifteenth birthday, to mark her transition from child to adult.
As the ritual is an important part of many Latin American cultures, it takes on different meanings and overtones in each culture. In Mexico, the tradition of the quinceañera is thought to date back to the times of the Aztecs, although no one knows for sure. In Aztec tradition, young women were expected to marry and care for the household, so they were only taught the skills that would help them do so better. The quinceañera was a signal that the young woman was being prepared for marriage and would soon be available to do just that. The women of the village would teach the young woman the skills needed to maintain a household and be a good wife. Occasionally, if a young girl was a member of the elect, she would be chosen as a priestess, and would be trained to that end.Continue reading