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Quinceanera Research Papers

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The quinceañera is a joyous and often beautiful ritual, celebrating a young Latina’s passage into womanhood. It is also an important element of Latino culture, and as such, it is important, particularly in the United States, where the Latino community exists within a larger, non-Latino society. The quinceañera provides an opportunity for the Latino community to reaffirm its identity as something that is both a part of, and separate from, the surrounding society.

Today, the quinceañera is being challenged by feminists who view the ritual as a symbol of the oppression of woman. Because the quinceañera recognizes the 15th birthday as the point at which a girl is available for marriage, many feminists view the ritual as inappropriate – as improper in a world in which the goal of a 15-year-old girl should be to further her education.

A Rite of Passage

A research paper on the tradition of a quinceanera should include the following aspects:Quinceanera

  1. Look at the ritual and the celebration of the quinceañera
  2. Describe its significance in the life of a young Latina
  3. Consider the wider significance of the ritual, as it acts to unify and differentiate the Latino community
  4. Look at the continuing significance of the quinceañera in a changing world

For a Latina, the quinceañera is a celebration as well as a rite of passage. Celebrated on the 15th birthday, the quinceañera – a tradition dating to the Aztecs – marks a girl’s passage into womanhood. The occasion is a religious and social event that is celebrated by the girl’s extended family as well as by the community and the Roman Catholic Church. Following the ceremony, a young Latina is considered a woman, and is expected to accept the responsibilities, and take on the behaviors, of a woman.

Hispanic Culture of the Quinceanera

Serrato notes that, traditionally, the quinceañera marks the point at which a young woman is ready for adulthood and marriage, and the fifteenth birthday was chosen for the celebration because that was the approximate age at which Latino girls got married. Today, the notion of the quinceañera demarcating the point at which a young woman is ready for marriage is less apt, as women now marry later. Nevertheless the ritual maintains its significance, and continues to evolve while holding on to its traditional meaning. “The quinceañera is a traditional celebration which continues and which is slowly evolving as a reflection of the concerns of present-day Hispanic culture.”

The quinceañera is an important, and often elaborate, event in a young Latina’s life, and often involves months of preparation on the part of the girl and her family. Depending on the family’s financial circumstances, the celebration can cost thousands of dollars, and relatives and friends often help to absorb the expense of an elaborate gown and a large reception following the ceremony, which usually takes place in a Catholic Church.

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