◊ customs ◊
My friend’s sister Laura was about to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. At first, I didn’t understand why they were making such a big deal out of it, but after attending the “Quince años”, which means 15th birthday, I understood why this tradition is very important.
Most girls can’t wait to be 15 so they can celebrate with a Catholic mass and a big party. The “Quinceañera” (girl that is celebrating her 15th), is treated like a princess for that special day when she is going to be presented to society, to let them know she is not a little girl anymore; she is a woman now.
Laura started her preparations a year before the event! She picked her dress, the church where the service was going to be celebrated and the place where the party was going to be held. The invitations went out about a month before the celebration.
Following tradition on the special day, Laura got picked up in a limousine, and she and her parents were transported to a special church service in her honor. She was wearing a beautiful dress, earrings, a ring, and religious articles. Each of these items has a special traditional and symbolic meaning.
After church, we all went to the reception. There was live music and also a DJ that played while the band was taking a break, Laura danced the first dance with her dad, the second with her “Chambelán” (her official escort; basically, just a very good friend to dance with), then on the third song all of her “14 damas” (14 maids of honor) also danced with their “chambelanes” (official dance partners). The “damas” all wear matching dresses and the “chambelanes” wear black tuxedoes.
Everyone enjoyed the fiesta; it was great! I danced A LOT!!!!!
Back in the 1500’s, the Aztecs held rituals to celebrate their gods “Quetzalcoatl” and “Huitzilopochtli” from the 6th to the 26th of December. When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, they introduced their own customs and traditions, one of them being the celebration of Christmas. One of these traditions is what is now known as “Las posadas,” which means inn or lodging.
The celebration starts on December 16th and ends on Christmas Eve, December 24th. People wear costumes representing biblical characters. They all gather in a neighbor’s house and depart from there. They all walk to the first house to ask for shelter. While they are walking, everyone holds a candle and sings. Then, when they arrive at the house, the group divides in two; one goes inside the house, the other one stays outside. While singing, they ask for shelter, which is denied. The group inside rejoins the others and everyone start to walk again, and they do the same thing at the second house. After shelter is denied for the second time, they all go to the third and last house where, after asking for shelter, they are allowed to go in. People gather around the Christmas tree, pray, and sing. After that, everyone goes to the patio and kids get ready to break the “Piñata”. The kids get blindfolded, then hit the “Piñata” with a stick. When they break the piñata all the candies come out. Everyone goes back inside to enjoy a delicious dinner. And they do the same thing (at different houses) for the next EIGHT nights in a row!