By Coral Rey
The religious ceremony has been a tradition in the quinceañera celebration for a long time until recently. While some girls choose to continue the religious tradition, others do not. What are the details behind their decision to have or not have a celebration, and how do young ladies decide whether or not to have a ceremony?
While planning (or even just thinking of) a quinceañera celebration, one element of the festivities always comes to mind: the religious ceremony. According to quincehelp.com, “the quinceañera mass is a thanksgiving for [the Quinceañera’s] first 14 years of life.” Nowadays, the religious ceremony is seen as an optional part of the quince celebration. Girls having a quince use their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) to determine whether or not to have a religious ceremony.
For April Reza, a high school graduate who had her quince in 2010, deciding to have a religious ceremony was easy. “It’s something I [had] always wanted since I was little,” she remembers with a smile. Growing up as a Catholic in an all-Catholic household, April saw the religious ceremony pass down as a tradition in her family. “It’s something we always do,” she says.
Since having a religious celebration is a tradition in her family, it was very well received. April recalls, “They really enjoyed it…they wish they could’ve done the whole thing over again.”
While some girls like April go the traditional route, others like to be different, such as Nastassia Artalejo, a self-employed photographer who had her quince back in 2006. Raised in a non-religious household and being agnostic herself, Nastassia chose to not have a religious ceremony for her quinceañera. Nastassia says that having a religious ceremony was “not important [for me]. I just wanted to be there to celebrate what my parents thought was an important birthday.”
While Nastassia’s parents were fine with her not having a ceremony, her extended family did not have a similar reaction. “It was confusing for the rest of my family that I wasn’t having a ceremony because they are all Catholic. My cousins all had ceremonies at churches, but I didn’t,” she recalls.
So what does this all mean for girls out there planning their quince? How should they go about deciding whether or not to have a religious ceremony? Amalia Castro, a musician who had her quince back in 1999 weighs in on the issue, saying “They (Quinceañeras) should just be informed what it is about and let them decide if they want the ceremony or not.”
Ultimately, a religious ceremony should be something you “do…for yourself,” says Nataly Monique Montana, a 10th grader who recently had her quince in 2012. Nataly was raised as a Baptist but was not officially baptized in her church. In order for her to have had a religious ceremony at her church, she and her parents would have had to go through a series of religious meetings with the priest of her church and be baptized. When Nataly and her parents were planning her quince and they learned what steps they would have to take to have a ceremony, there just wouldn't be enough time before her quince. Nonetheless, Nataly and her parents were not disheartened because they couldn't have a ceremony. Nataly says that instead, "my dad and I said a prayer at the [quince] party" something that Nataly remembers as being personal and fulfilling. Despite Nataly coming from a religious upbringing she recalls, "no one said anything" about her not having had a religious ceremony.
While having a religious ceremony as part of a quince is customary, girls planning their quince shouldn’t feel pressured to follow in tradition’s footsteps for the sake of doing so. According to Quinceanera.com, a girl renews her baptismal vows and promises to honor herself and her religion before God and her community at the ceremony. This carries a lot of religious and cultural significance, so don’t do it if your heart and personal beliefs aren’t in it. Remember, it is your big day, so make it yours in your own special way, with or without a ceremony.