Different Ways Latinos Celebrate Birthdays: Quinceañeras and More
Some countries share a lot of similar customs and traditions with each other. There is one particular birthday that stands out from the rest.
When a girl turns fifteen years old, tradition dictates that she is now transitioning into womanhood, and the celebration for this tradition is called the quinceañera. The parties thrown during quinceañeras are sometimes grander than the parties for weddings.
For many other Latinos cultures, traditions range from strange to downright hilarious. These are different ways people celebrate and have fun on birthdays.
For Latinos in the Dominican Republic, quinceañeras begin with a religious Mass before the official ceremony begins.
In some Latin American countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, people arrange themselves in two lines facing the other, and in the middle is a long carpet on which the celebrant must tread upon arrival, arm in arm with her father.
After dancing, dinner, and drinking, the ceremony called the "Tree of Life" commences. Fifteen of the celebrant's closest friends or family are given one candle that will be blown out after they give a heartwarming speech for her birthday.
For places like Colombia and Venezuela, the quinceañera is typically formal in the first half. However, after all the intricate ceremonies, the real party, called la hora loca commences. This fun part of the night sometimes involves guests wearing wigs and masks, dancing to music, and drinking until morning.
In Cuba, 14 couples waltz around the birthday girl as a welcoming ceremony for the quinceañera. After dining, the celebrant and her father will join the dancers, collecting flowers and blowing out all the candles. Havana primarily is known to offer excellent deals for quinceañeras, and so many Latinos families flock there to celebrate.
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For Mexicans, especially, these are called fiestas, and the feast is fit for families of all sizes. Another tradition is to sing Las Mañanitas, the Mexican birthday song. Much like in the U.S., the celebrant must blow out the candles and make a wish. For some families, the celebrant's face is smashed into the cake for fun.
In Argentina, it is tradition to pull on the celebrant's ear according to their age. Meanwhile, in Peru and Colombia, pranks are pulled involving smashing a variety of cake ingredients into the celebrant's face. It can be corn starch or eggs. It is called "la enmaicenada," which is derived from maizena, or corn starch.
Birthday celebrations in Latin countries typically include an entire table full of a variety of sweets, but Brazil is known to take it to the next level. For kids, especially, Brazilian parties are extravagantly filled with sweet treats like candies and chocolates.
Speaking of sweets, Peruvians have also got a sweet tooth. It is practically a tradition to prepare chocolate cake, or un torta de chocolate, for a birthday. Other desserts include pastel Peruvian and helado lucuma.
Of course, for birthday celebrations, Latino families are sure to remember setting up piñatas. Its contents are typically filled with toys, sweets, or even confetti. These are sealed in cardboard or paper mâché that is decorated with bright colors. Blindfolded guests take turns whacking the piñata with a stick.
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