Quinceañera Parties in Colombia

The word Quince in Spanish means 15. The Quinceañera is a girl who is turning 15 years of age. In Colombia (as well as many other Latin American countries), depending on the family's economic means, this birthday is celebrated with a special party -- a sort of coming of age party. This party, called the Fiesta de Quince, ushers the young woman from the world of childhood into the world of womanhood.

However, the kind of party you get will depend on your economic station in life. The more wealthy your family is, the fancier the party, the poorer your family is, the more simple. However, no matter your station, there are certain elements that are part of nearly every Quinceañera celebration.

#1 The Hair, Make-up and Nails.

Every girl will have a special hairdo for the occasion. Most families will splurge and send the girl to the beauty salon where she will get he royal treatment -- hair, nails, make-up, etc. She needs to look her very best.

#2 The Dress.

Most 15 year old Colombianitas will look forward to receiving a special dress for her 15th birthday celebration. Unlike Mexican or Chicano Quinceañeras, the Colombian dress is not typically a mock wedding or even fancy prom dress. It is usually a more practical dress -- ranging from cocktail type to church type. Again, the more economically limited the family is, the more likely the dress will be more of a practical nature.

#3 The Present.
Most Quinceañeras will receive a special present that can be kept for a lifetime in order to remember her special day. Jewelry is usually a top choice -- a necklace or ring. The quality and price are also based on the family's ability to spend their resources on a gift. Some families will go into debt for this event and they go all out.
In addition to the special memorial gift, some families will give an extravagant gift -- mopeds, sound systems, computers, or even trips to San Andrés or Miami as gifts to the Quinceañera.

#4 The Cake.
The party will always include a cake. Often the cake will have several tiers and will appear like a wedding cake. It is often adorned with a girl in high heeled shoes -- which leads to the next point...

#5 The Shoes.
Most girls will begin the party in flats. At some point during the party she is given high heeled shoes -- which are often placed on her feet by her father or closet male relatives in the case of single mothers.

#6 The Food.

Some girls sponsor a large dinner -- often with Lechona. Poorer families might just have appetizers. But, whatever the menu, there will be food for the crowd.

#7 The Dance.

No Fiesta de Quince is complete without a dance. But, the Dance always begins in a very special way. The first dance of the night is a Waltz (Vals). The nearly universal song used for this waltz is the Blue Danube Waltz and it is the first song that the girl will dance to in her high heels.

When the song begins, she will be accompanied by her father -- or closest male relative in the case of a single mother. Throughout the song, she will take a twirl with an additional 14 other gentlemen -- typically boys that she has invited though uncles, cousins, and other relatives will often be enlisted to help reach the magical number of 15.

This dance officially ushers the girl into society of young women. In some families each of the fifteen official dancers will also give the girl one long stemmed rose at the end of the entire waltz and he thanks her for the dance.

Optional Quinceañera Traditions:

#8 The Toast.
There is typically a toast where the girl sips champagne for the first time. Though in many families no real alcohol is served and it is more symbolic.

#9 The Serenata.
The parents often pay for a serenade. It arrives the night before the party at midnight.

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Connie said…
Thanks! We needed this. :)
Anonymous said…
thank you very much, i needed this
Maria Carrillo said…
How about if ur daughter indures both Colombian and Mexican traditions. How can accommodate both for special day?
Maria Carrillo said…
How about if ur daughter indures both Colombian and Mexican traditions. How can accommodate both for special day?
Diane Brule said…
This is a wonderful resource! My daughter's 15th birthday is 13 months away, but she is already working on her guest list :)

I'd love to read more, especially from families in the U.S. with Colombian daughters who have celebrated this event. We'll be the first of our friends to do this, so we're looking for ideas!
Unknown said…
My name is Tashiko and I am Colombian American and I would like ideas or information that i can use to embrace my colombian heritage and put it into my life style
Unknown said…
Hello I have a question Please if someone could help me. My daughter is half Irish half Colombian we live in America my daughter has embraced both cultures but would love to have a Quinceañera I have 14months to plan and my mother in law lives very far away unfortunately we have no family close. I want to give her a very traditional Quinceañera while also regonizing she has many American friends How do I do this And give her the perfect special day

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