Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mormon Quinceaneras? Just Curious...

I put into the webcrawl a thoughtful and fascinating article on how the Denver Catholic archdiocese handles the quinceanera in some of its parishes. The article focuses on one girl's experience and vividly described her party and its preparations. So it got me thinking...and I realized I was totally ignorant and needed enlightenment... and I needed to move it out of the sidebar and into the discussion space.

In areas of the US where we have a lot of Latina YW, is this an issue? Of course it must be in countries where this is commonly celebrated, especially Mexico. How do Hispanic Mormons mark their daughter's quinceanera? Do they use the cultural hall just like Mormon weddings do? Who's been invited to one, or given one?

I guess the more general question is, when cultural rites of passage meet Mormonism's correlation of programs, what happens? Does one give way to the other, or do families and wards find ways to make them coexist?

16 comments:

  1. Interesting...now that you mention it, I've never heard of a Mormon Quinceanera. I now live in San Diego, and before that I lived in Modesto, CA (home of HUGE numbers of Mexican immigrants thanks to the agricultural industry there), and before that I lived in Orange County, all places with massive Hispanic populations and I've never seen one.

    Of course, not being Hispanic myself, that doesn't necessarily mean much. Maybe in the Spanish branches? But not in the English speaking wards at least.

    It does make some sense to me because as my limited understanding tells it, and as the article seems to support, this tradition is basically a coming out party signifying an entry into the worlds of dating and marriage. Since our LDS views don't quite fall in line, it seems logical that there would be a shift away from this.

    I've heard stories on NPR (not to mention witnessed the results first hand living in Modesto) about the staggering birth rates to teenage mothers, and the NPR story seemed to suggest that the Quinceanera tradition fed this phenomenon.

    I'd love to hear from someone well informed on Hispanic culture who can weigh in on this with more authority than me.

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    1. Reese, thanks so much for your perspective. It's good to know how people truly feel or perceive things because it is their reality; however to base an opinion on just a suggestive article is all the more typical of many closed minded members.
      First and foremost it is more of a cultural tradition that incorporated catholic ceremonies which I read thehistory or ceremonial practices it actually is a beautiful celebration of a young lady turning into a young woman. Keep in mind that when these traditions began, 15 was a common age that many young women were wed just as the practices that took place in the early history of our church. Just as we evolved in our religious and cultural practices, ceremonies like these have evolved as well. In many other countries, children grow into adulthood at an earlier age than American youths due to the responsibilities that were expected and exicuted. Even today, I'm sure that if you visit many other countries, many of which we would consider 3rd world, the maturity level of youth is much more ahead of our youth in America. As an American, I know that it is typical for us to pass an uneducated judgement on other cultural practices with a lack of knowledge. It is not mocking God nor taking away from Him in any sense or form. It is simply acknowledging Him in a Young Women's life. Much like our current YW program that encourages values. We must be very careful about making these comments so that we don't turn other cultures away from our church. Many of us Americans tend to misinterperate other cultures and traditions. This could very well be why some people outside of the culture are'nt invited to experience such deferent yet beautiful practices.
      You can have a quinceniera similar to an American Sweet 16, which by the way.... I have seen MTV's teen moms which are predominantly
      caucasion females. Although I am not Latin, I am a minority that is well aware of miscomseptions of cultural practices. I have travelled most of my life sharing my culture and learning of others. In my experience, I have learned that our Heavenly Father loves all of us equally yet created us differently for a purpose. It adds a beautiful variety in his creation. We grow spiritually as we learn and except. After all, spiritual
      growth is what our gospel is all about.

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  2. We lived in Calexico, California for 4 years (right on the border and a sister city to Mexicali, Mexico.) While there we attended a spanish-speaking branch, and later a ward was formed made up of about 90% Hispanic members. I discovered that the Quinceaneras tradition was extremely discouraged among the members. This surprised me, as I would have thought it would be fun to hold the party and just "Mormonize" it. But the members in that area explained that Quinceaneras were Catholic and if you held this party for your child you were betraying your religion. The whole time we were there I never saw a Mormon girl hold a Quinceanera.

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  3. Fascinating. What is so interesting is that this article points out that it's not Catholic either, it's "culturally" Catholic and that makes it an explosive issue within the diocese.

    Who "extremely discouraged it" and how? That's something I'm interested in, in how the rubber meets the road on the small level, in the details, on the ward level or smaller, where people experience the church.

    Then, too - I guess if we Mormonized it, it would have to be the Dieciseisanera anyway.

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    1. Im pretty sure holloween was started from a Pagon belief that spirits would visit homes and if offerings weren't given, bad things would happen. Hense the saying of Trick or Treat. As a matter of fact, the apple in the story of Adam and Eve was chosen by the Catholics because of how pagons viewed that particular fruit. If you cut it in half severing the top and bottom, it creates the symbol of the pentogram which the Catholics new to be a Pagon symbol. My point is, we except these things so easily. Maybe its because it has evolved to an American tradition. As for the Spanish wards comments, I believe that many of us Latinos can go a little overboard with our opinions. I remember growing up in a Hispanic legalistic church and everything was considered a sin. We were discouraged from watching shows like He-Man, Thunddercats and even /the Smurfs because of its references to magic.

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  4. I was curious about this and emailed my brother-in-law, who was president of a Spanish speaking branch in Ames, Iowa for a few years. He didn't elaborate, but said that he was invited to quite a few Quincaeneras by various YW in the ward.

    I'll have to pry him for more information about it.

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  5. I'm from Guatemala but grew up in the USA. My grandparents joined the church in Guatemala and both my parents grew up LDS in Guatemala. The quinceanera celebration is definitely more cultural than religious. It just so happens that there are more Catholics than any other religion in Latin America and therefore religious influence has become part of the celebration for them. However if you are not Catholic you are not banned from having your party for your quince anos (15 years).

    In fact, the only reason not to have it would be a lack of funds. Even then, there are all kinds. Some have it in their backyard, others rent a ballroom in a hotel and have a lavish party. They are like the debutante balls or cotillions that were so common here in the 40's and 50's. It's a coming out party, supposedly the first time the girl gets to wear high heels, go to a big party, wear makeup, etc. The idea that it would lead to higher teenage birth rates is silly. Lack of education, resources, or absent working parents are more likely culprits for teenage mothers than a party that can be compared to a sweet 16 celebration.

    I had a quinceanera and loved it. I've also attended many of them in cultural halls around Fresno, CA and the emphasis has always been on the divine nature of the young woman and how special she is to everyone invited. It is more of a self-esteem boost than anything. Thanks for the discussion!

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  6. ana, I'm so glad you posted - your perspective was just what I was hoping for. Very eye-opening! come back soon!

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  7. A good friend of mine growing up (Hi Becky) in the church had her Quinceaneras, but in her home country of Bolivia where the traditions have their own flavor. She lived 9 months of the year in the US going to school and living with her grandparents (and later her parents moved permanently to the US) and spent the summers in a small town in Bolivia, if I remember correctly. Knowing her family, I doubt it was a lavish celebration. And I remember her describing the gifts as very humble and utilitarian (yards of fabric, etc). I was still jealous.

    Great blog, BTW. My oldest will turn 12 this summer so I appreciate the resource.

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  8. This post helped alot. I've just been invited to one by a seminary student of mine and would like to be prepared. Thanks!

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  9. I know this is a old question but I was looking for an answer on having a sweet 16 for my daughter but being LDS I'v never heard it done. I would like to use the ward gym to do it but wasn't sure if it was allowed for our youg womwn.

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  10. I am a Hispanic Mormon woman and my mother threw me a Sweet 16, not a Quincenera. Part of that could be my mother's attempts to assimilate as much as possible into American culture and part of it was also because we are LDS and 16 is when dating, etc, traditionally begins. I was born here in the States, and while I embrace my Dominican roots, I wanted to be like the rest of my friends and have a Sweet 16. All of my extended family is Catholic and my mother was Catholic before finding the Church, so I would probably agree with the other posts that is a predominantly Catholic tradition.

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  11. I'm Hispanic I grow up in Mexico My mom Grandma myself and sisters did not have a Quinceañera we were catholic's back then. I am LDS now and I will make a Quinceañera for my daughter. Quinceañeras are not a catholic thing although it is predominant is more cultural from back in he day around the 17th century when a girl turn 15 she was introduced to sociality not to date but to let people know they had a young lady ready to become a women.

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  12. Im planning on having a quince for my daughter. we are more focusing on her faith and her becoming a women. Our church has never had one. Has any one been or had one the LDS church. Love to hear from people who might be able to help us... thanks JesMax

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  13. I grew up in El Paso, Texas a city that is 80 percent hispanic. My parents gave me a Quinceanera in a Mormon Chapel. My parents had discovered somewhere that historically the Quinceanera was done by having the birthday girl surrounded by 15 elder women who gave her a word of wisdom about her journey into womanhood. I am unsure of their sources. Hearing this they let me pick 15 women to give mini talks with words of wisdom in the chapel. Among the women that spoke to me were my YW leaders. If I remember correctly we started and ended with a prayer. It was an amazing experience and all of my family and friends were in tears. My non-member friends loved it also. I had a court with peers and all their parents went too. We had a dance that evening at a private hall. Naturally, when my little sister was turning 15 my parents wanted to do the same thing for her. However, they were told by the bishop that it is not allowed because a quinceanera is Caholic in nature. My parents were very upset and argued that it was a culture right of passage. They were referred to somebody in Salt Lake who did not budge on the issue. I think this is one reason, among others, why my parents are not active today. They still did the same thing for my sister, but they paid a non-denominational christian church to have it. I got to be one of the women giving my sister words of wisdom. It was sad we weren't in the chapel, but it was still beautiful. I have three daughters and I want to do the same thing for them.

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    1. Christy, I enjoyed reading your article. I am an active member of the church and I will give my daughter a quinceniera. I am not a Latina, but my husband is Puetoricano. I am proud of my children's heritage and believe it directly corralates with geneology and family traditions.
      What I have found is that many people lack understanding....hence the profound stupidity. It is much better to encourage good natured, positive experiances for our youth by incorporating our spiritual beliefs. Please keep in mind that our leaders are also human and are not perfectly versed in everything. Your parents gave you a wonderful memory that fosters value.

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