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Cuba: Sweet 15

Quinceañera

Robin Thom had the good fortune to be on the right balcony at the right time in order to capture this lovely scene on the Paseo de Prado in Havana, Cuba. “I had always assumed this was a wedding,” writes Robin on his Flickr page, “but it was pointed out that this may be the celebration of the coming of womanhood.” Wikipedia tells us this celebration is called the “Quinceañera”, or Quince Años (Spanish for fifteen years), and is observed in parts of Latin America (the word “Quinceañera” can also refer to the subject of the celebration):

Fifteenth birthday celebrations were very popular in Cuba until the late 1970s. The custom entered the country partly via Spain, but its major influence was French. Wealthy families, who could afford to rent luxurious halls at country clubs or 4/5-star hotels and to hire choreographers, were the actual pioneers of Quinceañeras. Although lower-income families could not afford the same display of wealth, they too started to celebrate Quinceañeras, which they called Quinces. Those celebrations usually took place at the home of the Quinceañera or at the more spacious house of a relative.

While this traditional celebration is still practiced nowadays in Latin America and Latino communities in North America, it is sometimes observed by other events that focus more on the quinceañera's wishes (e.g. world travelling). In some cities, the more proper Baile de las Debutantes (Debutantes’ Ball) still survives.

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