Fifteen vs Sixteen


Juliescribbles – Wikimedia Commons

In almost every woman’s life there are numerous events and traditions that fall in accordance with their family and their culture. Two of the most common female traditions are the Quincenera and Sweet 16. The two events are based on the birthday girl aging into a young woman.

Even though both celebrations are based on a birthday celebration, Quinceneras and Sweet 16 have their differences culturally. Quinceneras, which means 15, is a Mexican tradition which focuses on girls who are turning 15 years old. In Mexican culture, having a Quinceanera symbolizes a girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood. Sweet 16 on the other hand is more of an American tradition and is a celebration of the girl’s life as she reaches the age of 16. 

Planning a party is never easy, especially if it’s a major part of one’s culture and traditions. While planning, people would have to keep in mind the venue, budget, dress and etc. There are many factors that go into planning a party so it is best that one plans ahead of time. Lindsay Santos, Sophomore, recommends girls to start planning ahead of time for their party. 

“I started planning my party when I was 13, about to turn 14, but I wasn’t able to have my party because of Covid. I was thinking of doing a big party for my sweet 16 but then to find the venue again, catering, decoration and all the other things I felt a bit stressed because having to do that in such a short amount of time was very overwhelming. That’s why  I started planning two years ahead when I was between 13 and 14 so when the time came to my party I had everything ready,” said Santos.

One major part of having a Quinceanera is the church ceremony and the gifts. During the mass, the young girl receives the holy communion and gives the virgin Mary a bouquet of flowers. At the church ceremony if any godparents are going to gift the young lady a necklace, ring or bible, the priest will bless them. Ivonne Want, a Spanish teacher explains that having a church ceremony for a Quinceanera is a major part of the tradition.

“There is a huge symbolize at the church service, normally Quinceaneras have a little pillow where they girl is able to kneel and pray, because the whole point of the Quinceanera is about a young girl becoming a woman, the young girl is able to come to god as she makes the transition into womanhood,” said Want.  

For both traditions, the young girls commonly wear big dresses to celebrate their birthday and transition into womanhood. There are many shops that only consist of big dresses for Quinceaneras and sweet sixteen such as ‘La glitter’ ‘Princess Jewels’ ‘Miss 15 boutiques’ all located in Texas. The reason girls wear such big dresses is because to highlight that the girl is going to turn into a beautiful mature woman. Emily Cardenas, Sophomore explains that the dress she chose was perfect for her party. 

“When my family and I first started to look for dresses we weren’t able to try on anything because of Covid but I first saw my dress in a catalog that I saw, it was blue and white. When I saw it I knew that that’s the dress that I wanted for my Quinceanera. The theme that I wanted was Cinderella, so I felt that it was the perfect dress,” said Cardenas. 

For important events and traditions, people normally think that the more people the merrier. For Quinceaneras and sweet 16, the family and the young girl can either decide to have a big or small party based on the venue and catering. Whether or not a girl decides for a big or small party, she is beside the people who care about her and are with her celebrating her transitioning into a woman. Santos says that it doesn’t matter about the size of the party but the people who are with you. 

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s mandatory for girls to have big parties. There are some people that have small backyard parties, and they’re really pretty, it captures everything and you have a close family party, then having a big party in a ballroom is the same thing. The only difference is when you have a big party you have a lot more people there celebrating with you and with a generally smaller party, it’s just close friends and family,” said Santos.