By Lizette Martinez Maldonado
1. What did turning 15 mean to you?
Turning 15 was traditionally important to me. Having a quince marked my passing a milestone in my life that would enable me to join the "older girls" in my family through experiences. It meant small traditions, like having my dress made by hand by my abuelita and making hundreds of biscochos with my grandma, mother, aunts and sisters.
2. Why did you want a quinceañera?
I wanted to see all my family and friends together in one place (my parents are divorced) and I wanted to dance.
3. Tell us about your celebration? (Dress, theme, locations, decor, color, dances, party, court, family)
I had a woodland fairy themed quince, I remember my favorite part was the cake, which had real flowers as decor on the frosting. We danced to "Last Night" by The Strokes, "Wonderwall" By Oasis and I literally danced by myself while the song "Dancing with myself" by Billy Idol played. The song I danced with my father was "With or Without You" by U2 and with my buelo - "Mi querido viejo" by Piero.
4. What made your celebration unique?
This isn't necessarily a happy sort of unique, but I remember my mother just being released from the hospital after having my baby brother prematurely. It was rough and the week prior (he was born exactly one week before me and as a matter of fact my mother had to leave my quince practice to have him) we really thought we were going to lose both of them. I remember feeling really selfish for going on with the event without her being able to be there, especially the way she planned it, but our entire community pitched in at the last minute to help with everything and I felt so loved. My quince was for me, but in many ways it was for my mom as well, through the generosity of those who helped us on behalf of her.
5. What role did you religion play in your quinceañera?
I was raised very devout Catholic, so my family made the religious significance of this event clear, although at the time, I too was developing my own ideas regarding Catholicism and found myself torn with the certain ritual aspects of my quince.
6. What is the significance of a quinceañera in our culture today?
In all honesty, I feel that the cultural and traditional aspects of this idea are dwindling and that modern families are turning what used to be a very ritualistic and traditional event into a big party. Its beautiful that girls are still willing to adhere to culture but I feel that, to them (and in retrospect myself included) the celebration would mean more with a better understanding behind why we are celebrating it.
7. What are some traditions that you incorporated into your event?
I remember my father changing my shoes, the dances, the cookies, and giving a speech as well.
8. What was your favorite memory about your quince?
Dancing with my buelo, crying with him as I supported his weight because of his bad knees. It was beautiful, thinking about it now, I tear up.
9. What advice would you share with a girl planning her quince?
Don't care too much about the material and focus more on the quality of memories you are making. The details don't matter in the end.