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Different Rites of Passage Into Adulthood

March 22, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 141

Taking first steps into adult life has always been considered as a huge event. Examples of ritual ceremonies celebrating a child's coming of age abound in historical chronicles. Even though these traditions are rooted in different cultures, some common denominators might be found. Firstly, almost always such celebrations involve lots of people from the celebrating person's family and members of their closest community. Apart from this, these rites of passage usually contain some religious ground.

The tradition of quinceanera meets all these criteria. As you can probably guess, this term does not originate from English. It actually comes from Spanish, where the word 'quince' means 'fifteen'. The word 'anera' stands for 'years', so the whole term might be translated as a 'girl's coming of age'. It is important to notice that this word is used with reference to a girl's fifteenth birthday only.

It has been a religious ritual as far back as 500 BC. History has it, this custom has been practiced by the Aztecs. Nowadays, even despite its non-Christian roots, quinceanera celebrations are held in churches, where a Mass of Thanksgiving is being held. This ritual puts the girl celebrating her in an honorable position. All the rituals that are part of the quinceanera tradition are hugely symbolic. The girl celebrating her birthday is supposed to occupy a place located near the altar, which symbolizes her passage into adulthood. Also, she is accompanied by a group of fourteen girls, each of these of approximately the same age that she is. The number of fourteen is of special significance here. Each of the girls is supposed to symbolize one year in life of the one that just turned fifteen. It is not only the girls, however, as each of them is accompanied by a chamberlain, so the group is quite large.

As serious as transition into adult life, the whole ceremony is very solemn as well. This pertains both to the events as well as the clothes worn by the participants. Some even claim that the clothes look like the ones worn by wedding guests. For instance, the chamberlains are supposed to wear tuxedos, while all the fourteen girls put on gowns that look alike the ones worn by bridesmaids. The quinceanera girl,is supposed to put on a special quinceanera dress. Even though these were traditionally pink, nowadays one can pick ones in whatever color she likes. It's also a good idea to adorn a quinceanera dress with some additional elements, like a ring or bouquet.

Source: EzineArticles
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