The word “quinceañera” comes from the Spanish word for fifteen years, quinceaños, and it refers to the tradition of having a special celebration on a young woman’s fifteenth birthday. The historical tradition of the quinceañera’s real meaning has been lost in recent years. According to several sources, this celebration started with the idea of presenting young girls to society as a way to promote her beauty and the family’s name to possible suitors as a mean to unify the power of certain families. As time went by it lost its intention and became an intimate family celebration. I remember my sister’s quinceañera was a family affair; even my friends’ quinceaneras were planned as family events, not the enormous, expensive parties that nowadays families are celebrating.


During my tenure as a pastor in a local congregation in Dallas, Texas, I had the opportunity to officiate multiple quinceañeras (around 160), and I can tell you, I have seen it all! So called eEmo-quinceañeras (emo=emotional), where the participants wear all black, the traditional baby pink, to neon green dresses; from 5” heels to Chuck Taylor sneakers; from a court of honor with 5 maids and their respective partners to 15 maids and partners (I am talking about 30 kids who are three to five years old). I have had worship services at the church, at the park, at the ballroom, at hotels and at ranchos.


Some of the traditional blessings during the worship service includes the blessing of the gifts, which include the following items of jewlery: a ring, bracelet, and a chain with the Virgin of Guadalupe pendant. The madrinas/padrinos (sponsors)—it iss their responsibility to buy the gifts—would bring those gifts to the altar. It is very probable that there would also be a madrina who brings a bouquet of red roses for the Virgin of Guadalupe, which will need to be blessed before being placed in front of the Virgin’s image. Some families will bring to the quinceañera a plate with spices symbolizing the good, the sad, and the bad things that life will bring as the young woman is becoming an adult, and also the courage necessary to overcome those obstacles. The blessing of a white candle might also be included.


The blessing from the parents is very important (have tissues ready), and the thank you prayer from the quinceañera (the young woman herself) to her parents, grandparents and God. This is a complete worship service; the pastor and the family can choose the readings and hymns together, or if the family allows it, the pastor can choose readings about Mary, love and family.


I recommend having a rehearsal; there is t is very important to ask about what language should be used for the service, because many quinceañeras are bilingual but grandparents might not speak English. Another layer to this celebration is the fact that you can also get quinceañeros (male) or quinceañeres (nonbinary), and they might want to have either more male-oriented language, such as readings or hymns that talk about men and traditionally male roles, or more inclusive language in their worship services. This is a special time for the young person and their families and can be for you as well, so enjoy the planning and the event: it is a unique experience! It is up to each individual to go to the big party afterwards, as they so choose. I used to assist at the dinner and leave early: many Latinos/as see clergy as almost holy and don’t

want to “misbehave” if they are at the party, so they can have more fun if you leave! To those working with Latine congregation and have questions don’t hesitate to reach out, I am here to answer any questions you might have and help as needed!