The secularization of Quinceanera?

Quinceanera, the coming of age ceremony for 15-year-old Latina girls in the U.S., is becoming more secular, coming to resemble Jewish bat mitzvah ceremonies, reports the New York Times (June 5). Traditionally, the quinceanera combined a birthday party with a rite-of-passage into womanhood for teenage Latinas, but it also had strong religious overtones, including a Mass with the celebrations based within a church hall, with the idea of showcasing the girl’s purity and readiness for marriage. Over the years, the ceremony has become more lavish, bringing in event planners, D.J.s, and makeup artists and spawning fashion expos, and today “many girls are incorporating decidedly secular and non-Latino elements…” into these events, writes Marybel Gonzalez. The extravagant nature of quinceanera parties, with their high costs, has raised criticisms that the celebrations clash with the church, with one New York parish cutting back holding such Masses. But the celebrations have a dual role: for recent immigrants, they create an impression of affluence, while for second- and third-generation Americans, they are a way to reclaim lost traditions, according to Rachel Gonzalez-Martin of the University of Texas at Austin.