Birthdays play an important role in this society but none more important than a girl’s Quinceanera, 15th birthday. Like a Bar Mitzvah, a Quinceanera signifies a girl’s transition into womanhood. I had my first chance to experience a Quinceanera last night, Nelcy, one of Paul’s girls, turned fifteen.
The party guests are lined up anticipating the appearance of the new woman much like a church full of guests waiting for the entrance of the bride. The entrance is specially adorned for the occasion with balloons and ribbons, the birthday cakes act as a type of alter at the end of the room. Nelcy entered the room to a standing ovation holding a teddy bear flanked by her quinceanera maids of honor, Paul and Sandi (her acting father and mother).
As she reaches the alter, Sandi bends down and changes her shoes from a child’s sandals to a woman’s shoes. Maybe this is where a woman’s love to buy shoes begins??? Paul steps forward and takes the teddy bear from Nelcy’s hands and replaces it with a bible. A prayer is said, welcoming Nelcy to womanhood and asking God to take care of her as she faces the completion of her education, marriage and having a family.
Nelcy leaves the room and reenters the room as a woman, this time with a young man on her arm and the party begins; similar to a wedding reception the first dance with her date and then with her father. Male friends then get their turn to dancing with the new woman.
The party then switched to the entertainment segment which started with a couple of children’s games, musical chairs followed by a unique game where someone dances around to music acting like a hunter with a rifle, using a stick, looking for his quarry. Eventually he finds the right person pointing the stick at that person pretending to have bagged his game and that person becomes the hunter and the hunt resumes.
Later the party resumed with everyone dancing, food being served and the cake being cut. The night ended early because it was a school night but certainly a unique experience for me. Nelcy looked trilled with the attention and it was my last time to say goodbye to the girls, I will miss them. I will really miss Jess, Brie and Chelsey, the directors of Poppy’s House, the crisis center. They are incredible young ladies who have done an amazing and difficult job.