Karen's Quinceañera

In the Hispanic community, the fifteenth birthday celebration, called the fiesta de quince añosis arguably one of the most important days in a girl’s life. This cultural celebration symbolizes the transition from childhood to womanhood. “It means that I’m a girl coming of age and I’m not the little girl that I used to be,” said Karen. “I’m becoming a woman now.”

 After four months of planning, the big day had finally arrived for Karen Vela Lima. “I felt really sad because I didn’t want the day to be over,” said Karen. “But at the same time I was really excited and happy because the day finally came.” Karen’s Quinceañera started with a traditional church ceremony. “My family, we are Christian so we want to give thanks to God before anything,” said Karen. “We wanted to give him thanks for letting us have that day.” The ceremony was followed by a party that ran into the night, filled with dancing, and family and friends who traveled from all over to attend the celebration. 

Karen puts her shoes back on after taking them off to rehearse one of the dances that she and her court will perform during the party. One of the biggest parts of the event was Karen’s dress. “That [finding the dress] was very stressful, we went to Louisville, Russellville, Nashville, and a lot of different places just to find it,” said Karen. “I was really happy when I finally found it. I was like this is the one.”

Karen cries while her father, Roman, plays the guitar and sings her a song during the church ceremony. “I cried because it meant a lot to me and I really wasn’t expecting the day to come so fast, like we were already at the beginning of march and I was like ‘wow, it’s getting here fast’ and I didn’t want it to end,” said Karen. “I was like happy but also sad.”

After being passed around to dance with her godfathers and godmothers, Karen dances with her father, Roman. Her godparents all helped out with everything for the day. Karen danced with them as a way of showing thanks and to show all the guests that they are the ones who made the day possible. The day was also very emotional for her parents. “They were sad and crying because I’m not going to be their little girl anymore,” said Karen. “and they have to accept the fact that I’m going to be a woman one day.”

Karen dances with one of her Godfather's. 

Karen dances with Carlos Zuniga who was her main dance partner throughout all the dances. All together, Karen and her court performed four dances composed of two traditional waltz’s and two surprise dances. Choreographed dances are a traditional part of the quinceañerafestivities. 

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