Quince años, Nicaraguan Style

The party of “quince años” (15 years old) is for many young women in Latin America, a big rite of passage. Supposedly, the idea of the celebration is to mark the transition from childhood to young womanhood. Coming from a background of small, family-style birthday gatherings, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. Perhaps something similar to MTV’s “Sweet 16” reality TV show?

Sam and I were invited to the event by a student of ours. The formal invitation said there was to be a Mass, and then a reception party. The theme was “cowboy/girl.” Sam and I scrambled together outfits, bought the quinceañera a present (on registry), and attended the Thanksgiving Mass. Afterwards, the quinceañera filed outside (the traditional presentation), followed by her court of honor–in similar style to a wedding.

After being escorted in a car to the nearby reception spot, we realized that, in usual North American style, we were early. Two hours later, the fiesta began: a grand entrance, smoke machines, a live band, a catered buffet, waltzes, and a choreographed dance performed by the quinceañera and her friends.  We had to leave before the cake and general dancing began, but it certainly gave us a view into an elite, and entirely unforgettable, event.

Anyone else have Fiesta de Quinceaños stories?


A swan-shaped basket holds gifts.







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