Celebrating a Quinceanera in the Time of a Pandemic

Quinceanera BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of sandiegounionitribune.com

A young adult’s adolescent years may be confusing, stressful, and full of hormones. It is a difficult time for many, but there will be times that make it all worthwhile for them. 

Coming-of-age celebrations are among the few milestones during a teenager’s life that can create unforgettable moments: your first heartbreak, obtaining a driver’s license, homecoming, senior prom, and Sweet 16. In the case of Latino teenage girls, the long-awaited rite of passage is the Quinceanera.

Young ladies and their families spend years discussing plans for this special day. Usually, a year before the big birthday, a dress has been chosen. Girls dream about the extravagant dress they will wear in front of their family and friends. However, this year changed everything, as the pandemic canceled all large gatherings to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. No birthday parties, weddings, engagements, holiday, family, or religious functions, until further notice.

The youth and parents organizing these events are not the only ones affected by the temporary halt of celebrations. Quinceaneras are big business, costing parents tens-of-thousands of dollars. Large savings are invested in venues, food, beverage, limo rentals, dresses, decorations, gifts, and photographers to acknowledge becoming young adults. 

The expenses result in substantial wins for the vendors providing these services. The pandemic has practically stopped the revenue, leaving many business owners high and dry while wondering how they will get out of the financial hole.

Along with the economic hurdles is a sense of loss that comes from not holding the festive party. My daughter’s friend recently experienced the effects of its disappearance when her birthday event was indefinitely scrapped due to the pandemic. It turns out it is about much more than just a party; it was about the commemoration of a time in their lives. 

The guests and vendors were notified of a delay. However, ultimately the uncertainty looming over us forced a permanent cancellation. The birthday girl and court had been looking forward to an exciting day culminating in a celebration of ages. 

The loss was described as a mourning of sorts because it would be the last year many of them would be together. While some will return next year to a new school year, others will have gone on to a college out of state. 

A quinceanera is not just a big party that happens at the age of 15, for most girls. It is a time to rejoice while creating memories they will never forget. It is a tradition that brings together family and friends in a way that is special and beautiful. 

Girls dream up a day of love in celebration of who they’re becoming as a young lady. In an age where so much is changing, I hope that events such as these are preserved in the Latino culture. The expectation is that we will push through this challenging time to once again bring these cherished moments to the forefront of our society.