My oldest daughter was invited to celebrate the quinceanera of her very best friend. This means that she has gotten to be part of her helper group. So far she has been so mature. I am really pleased with how she is handling this and it makes me proud to be her mother.
It wasn't easy getting to this point though.
For one the vast majority of Americans don't celebrate a quinceanera. But is isn't much different than any other coming of age event. For most of human history you were considered an adult as soon as you went through puberty. So for most of history you were an adult by age 12-16 depending on specific cultural trends and biology thus making teenagers adults.
This belief is seen in various cultural holdovers and traditions such as "Sweet 16", "Quinceanera", "Bar Mitzvah", "Catholic Confirmation", and many other coming of age rituals.
Teenagers being separate from adults and considered to still be children or to be transitional is something that really did not start in modern cultures until the late 1800s and did not solidify as part of culture until after WWI in the 1920s and 1930s.
All of this had already started to diminish in my teen years, and probably in all honesty years before, I was just too young to notice. For me it was really prom that acted as a bit of a coming of age.
Today that is also less of a thing. To some it still serves as a "milestone" type occasion like Confirmation, but it is more something to be documented to show movement towards adulthood. We learned a lot about the quinceanera celebration and how she needed to act.
These days prom is less revered as something that is really a big deal, and more something that needs to be done to adhere to tradition. Typically a teenager close to prom could really care less about the event themselves, but is roped into the hype by friends and family who wish to relive their youth, or to re-write it.
That is why I am so pleased with my daughter's participation in the preparations, and her interest in the religious aspect of the celebration.
When they set out to get invitations, my daughter suggested ones that showed the religious aspect of the quinceanera instead of the more secular options. This was a really rewarding moment for me as well. As an Italian-America Catholic mother it is an immensely emotional moment when your child embraces the values that you have tried to instow upon them.
I think that she will do alright.
Photo by Christopher Michel