A quinceanera is held on a girl’s 15th birthday to celebrate her becoming a young lady. Padrinos are benefactors who help with the cost of the Mass and fiesta, which can be quite elaborate and expensive.
The quinceanera has roots in the rites of passage of tribes in Meso-America and in the traditions of Spain. It has rituals similar to that of the Christian celebration of marriage.
The fiesta is a gathering with the birthday girl having a court of honor, a cake-cutting ceremony, a crowning ceremony with a tiara and a traditional dance with her father. She is also presented with a doll, representing the last doll of childhood. In most cultures, this is preceded by Mass.
At one time, girls celebrating their quinceanera had two padrinos, played by her godparents or grandparents.
Because of the cost, it has become more common to have several padrinos or committees of padrinos to share the expense of a quinceanera. Grandparents and godparents are still included, but the list can extend to other relatives and friends.
Patrinos pay for the costs of the fiesta and the Mass, including the venue rental, food and entertainment. Costs include the purchase of a Bible, a kneeling pillow, the traditional last doll, the tiara and the birthday girl’s first high-heeled shoes, which her father will place on her feet during the quinceanera.
With committees of patrinos becoming more popular, it is becoming common to have each padrino sponsor a particular part of the quinceanera. This avoids duplication of items and the possibility of hurt feelings among the sponsors.
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