Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My First Quinciñera

Sunday morning I put on a nice dress and joined Ibis's boss and her family for a family quinciñera - a huge party to celebrate a girl's fifteenth birthday. This particular girl was a cousin of the boss's children and when I say she looked like a princess, I'm not exaggerating.

She wore a huge poofy floor-length dress, complete with a corset and glittering rhinestones. It was very much like a wedding gown except it was pepto bismol pink. She wore a tiara and looked beautiful. Tradition states that fifteen young men join her at the party and one of them will eventually be her husband. She only had five, one of whom wore a different color tie (I think he is her boyfriend) and they did several coordinated dances with lifts and everything.

The event was held in an outdoor pavilion at a restaurant that has gardens, a playground, and even a pool. When we arrived I was surprised to see chairs set up before an altar beneath some palm trees - again, like a wedding - as well as the tables and DJ beneath the covered area. There were flowers everywhere and pink clothes draping everything. (This is a fifteen year old girl we're talking about.)

When she arrived, they started with the ceremony at the altar. The boyfriend walked her down the aisle and a minister gave a ten-minute speech. Then they gave her gifts - a ring, a bible, and a fancy pillow for her to kneel upon for her blessing. The family is evangelical so I think there were more religious aspects than normal, but it was still nice. We all rose and clapped as she walked up the aisle to the pavilion.

Next a teacher of the girl's gave a passionate speech that I thought was about saving herself and being true to the girl her parents raised, but I found out afterwards it was actually a political speech. This woman belonged in a telenovela - she was punching her fist in the air and nearly screaming at us. Yes, I had to try hard not to laugh, but I wasn't the only one. When she finished I asked Ibis's boss if there was always that much shouting and she burst out laughing. Apparently not.

The food arrived in between these things. First a fish casserole served on tostadas, then a very good meal of carne asada, pasta, and roasted vegetables. Because the family is evangelical there was no alcohol (I guess there often is for the adults) so I had more than my share of orange soda.

There were more dances and a presentation where she opened a few gifts. A group of girls from their church played quite a few songs while people were eating. They were pretty good - I especially enjoyed the girl on the drums - and played mostly religious music. The guests were not invited to dance - another difference I'm told - but I was wearing tight shoes so that was fine with me.

I really enjoyed myself. It was fun seeing a new tradition and meeting new people who actually treated like a normal person. Typically Mexicans clam up around me and act uncomfortable, even though I understand what they're saying. But the people we sat with were friendly and acted like themselves, despite the gringa at the table.

All in all, a good day. :)

24 comments:

momcat said...

Hello from Momcat in South Africa. I'm glad you enjoyed the function and that you were welcomed and accepted by the other guests. Look forward to hearing more about Mexico and your life there.

Janna Qualman said...

So interesting to hear about! You probably didn't get any pics, did you? ;)

And a question came to me while reading this post: Do those around you speak English very often? Or do you have to speak Spanish when you converse with people (like Ibis' boss)?

Jen said...

Sounds like it was a very interesting party. :) I'm a little bummed you didn't get to dance (and I'll echo Janna's question: pics? LOL), but it sounds like you had a good time.

Thanks for sharing!

Robin said...

That sounds so cool! I love the idea of the kid shouting and punching the air making a political speech. I hope she didn't talk about feeding the poor as she stood their with her tiara. Hardy har.

WendyCinNYC said...

Oh, fun! Good for her and her interest in politics, whatever it might be.

Janet said...

great story, thanks for sharing the experience!

spyscribbler said...

Wow, that is so cool, Melanie! I always thought that our society misses out by not having a transition to adult ceremony.

The whole virgin thing was... a little weird, though. LOL!

Have you heard of those... virgin rings? Out west, I think, girls pledge their virginity to their fathers in some big ceremony, and then, I don't know. It's a little weird. But interesting.

WendyCinNYC said...

Spy, are you talking about Chastity Balls? I saw an HBO documentary on those.

Funny how you never see those for boys.

spyscribbler said...

SERIOUSLY, Wendy! See? Now, I like you.

Melanie Avila said...

Momcat, welcome!

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I didn't take any pictures. I figure I don't know her so I didn't need to bother. I guess it would've been nice for you guys!

Very few people speak English with me. Some people in the stores speak a little English, but the majority of the time I speak Spanish with everyone. His boss wants to learn English but she never tries with me, and I need to practice my Spanish, so... it's always Spanish. It frustrates Ibis.

Melanie Avila said...

Jen, yes it was fun! I would've liked to dance but without Ibis it isn't as much fun anyway.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I hate to dash your idea - but it was her teacher who gave the political speech.

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, I don't think the girl cared, lol. She looked pretty bored during the speech.

Melanie Avila said...

You're welcome Janet!

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, I do know about chastity rings and balls and all that. Ha, that's kind of funny. Chastity Ball. ROFL! Bit of an oxymoron, no?

ac said...

What I love about "Sweet 15" is that it's tacky as hell but the participants take it all so seriously. Almost as tacky as a traditional wedding...almost.

Yeah, I know. I'm alone on the tackiness comment.

Robin said...

ac: Not as tacky as some bar mitzvahs! Have you ever had to sit through one of those friggin slide shows of the kid's life given to the tune of some tear jerking soft rock song? I sit at bar mitzvahs dreaming of converting. Damn! I've always wanted to say that.

Melanie: Totally smashed my enjoyable mental image. So sad.

Melanie Avila said...

AC, they are SO tacky! I soaked it up because I'd never been to one before, but I had been told a little about them. I probably would've laughed at the dances if I hadn't known about them ahead of time.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, that's hilarious about being tempted to convert. I've never been to a bah mitzvah.

Sorry to ruin the image for you, lol.

ac said...

My brother converted to Judaism. Bat / bar mitzvah's are around the corner for this Puerto Rican family.

Melanie Avila said...

AC, you'll have to let us know how that goes. :)

spyscribbler said...

I've been to a couple. A few parents of my students have spent upwards of $20,000 on them. (Meanwhile informing me that, of course I'll understand, they need to pay a month late.)

Pink Ink said...

That is so cool to "see" it from your perspective!