Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate January 2002

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I believe that girl with Hispanic background should definitely celebrate their "coming of age" on their 15th birthday. This traditional celebration is called the Quinceañera. This celebration is considered by most Hispanic cultures to be one of the most important days in a woman's life.

This celebration greatly resembles a wedding. Traditionally, the girl wears a long gown that is white or pastel pink. The outfit consists of the dress, gloves, flat-bottomed shoes, and a tiara. She often will carry a bouquet of flowers. To begin the day, relatives and friends bring gifts in the morning. Musicians will be there to play music, including a birthday song called Las Mañanitas. Representing each year of the girl's life, fourteen couples will walk down the isle. A young girl will then walk down the isle, sprinkling roes pedals on the floor to make it worthy for the Quinceañera to walk on. After the couples and the young girl have gone, the girl and her parents walk down the isle.

Next there is an hour-long mass, during which selected people will speak and make and make special presentations of gifts. There is a bouquet given in honor of the Virgin Mary. The girl ends the mass with a traditional speech.

After the mass, there is a party with a Mariachi band playing, food, and dancing. Rice, chicken or turkey, tamales, and a large cake are the typically served foods. The young woman will present her younger sister with a porcelain doll, representing that she has entered the next stage of her life and is leaving childhood to her sister. She will wear a crown to show that from now on, she will be treated with more respect, as she is now a young lady. Her father will then change her flat-bottomed shoes into shoes with heels, symbolic of his acceptance that she is now a young lady.

The first dance will be performed by the young lady and her father. After that dance, he will escort her to her chambelan, or boyfriend, so that they may dance. After this day, she will be allowed to have boyfriends and go out on dates. The typical Quinceañera celebration costs thousands of dollars.

As you can see, this is more than a normal birthday party, it is a celebration of womanhood. It helps the young woman prepare for the responsibility that comes with growing up. This time only comes once, so any person should seize the opportunity to celebrate it and cherish the memories.