A quinceañera can take place in a wide variety of environments (outdoors, a house, a banquet hall) and a wide variety of lighting conditions (daylight, nighttime, lots of interior light, or a little).
Your considerations are going to be very different depending on those factors.
So how does this all mesh with my views on feminitiy and gender roles that I tend to reject?
The site La Corte gives you a detailed description on this tradition. But what I wanted to look at was this tradition from a more modern point of view.
First of all, “quinceañera” means 15-year-old girl, you may hear it called Fiesta de quince or probably some other variation depending on the country.
Many choose instead to travel to places like Disneyland, etc.. I for one asked for a new computer.
My friends who had theirs just organized a big party. With some leftover traditions like the girl dancing first with her father or whatever, but yeah. Nothing about being forced to be a lady.
A ritual is one way that humans symbolize and come to terms with transition, and this is another “coming of age” or “rite of passage” that symbolizes that the girl has transitioned from her childhood to adulthood.
But the fact that men don’t have anything of the sort itself suggests the motives and the message behind something like this is rooted in the patriarchal understanding of female usefulness based on her reproductive capacity.
It’s a similar thing as how there’s only one title for men, Mr., but women had Mrs. and Miss based on their marriage status (and now there’s Ms. that was an attempt to curtail the use of the first two, but in practice I understand it more or less replaced Miss).
It’s the same idea, women’s transition from childhood to adulthood, or from childlessness to motherhood don’t have a lot to do with her growing on a personal plane, otherwise these milestones would be given to men, and much quicker at that because it’s men who are acknowledged as the complete, complex people, they’re milestones of her moving on the meat market driven by her reproductive availability and desirability.
One example is Brazil, women used to be kept inside the house up until we were allowed to legally go to schools, which were segregated for years.
At 15 they were presented to society as being a grown woman, not a girl anymore and yes it used to be about meeting your future husband (one of the man you’d dance with after your grandfather and father) or find a suitable future husband, as well as show people you can properly behave like a lady in public.
This of course was and still is an event for and by people of more wealth.
Wealth is still a common motivating factor for some parents. A quinceañera is more of a competition to show who can throw the most expansive, extravagant party. Much like sweet 16 parties in the white community.
There are a lot of variations, and details if you stop and look around but non-Latinos here think all Latinos who are in the US are “Mexicans” qoute un-qoute. You just have to know what you are looking at.