The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-19
A Quinceañera in Quito;
Transition into Womanhood
And a Big Fiesta for All
by Ray Almand
Quinceañera in Quito
Mariuxi recently turned fifteen. Mariuxi is the daughter of Narcissa and Jose. Narcissa takes care of our apartment building. Jose is a fine Maestro - he did most of the renovation work on our apartment. Mariuxi has a younger sister and brother; we have gotten to know the family well over the past three years that we have owned our apartment. They have a apartment on the ground floor of the building near the entrance from the street.
Many societies throughout history have treated the transition of a young girl into womanhood as a special occasion. The French term Debutante has been used in European and North American upper class society to represent the coming of age of a girl. The Debutante Ball is the social event to present the girl - or perhaps several girls who are close friends or relatives - to society as approaching marriageable age.
In North American middle class society this coming of age is often reflected through a "Sweet Sixteen" party. Our family is sort of a cultural mixture so we have had both Quinceañera and Sweet Sixteen parties. A few years back our daughter Natalie and her same age cousin debated back and forth and finally decided on a joint Sweet Sixteen. But I have to say that I do hope marriage is still a long way away for both of them.
The Latin America Quinceañera is said to have its roots with the Aztecs in Mexico going back thousands of years before the Spanish conquest. There are different flavors of it throughout Latin America. It can be very formal or informal. In some cases it is elaborately choreographed like a large wedding with fourteen of the young girl's friends all dressed like bridesmaids. Usually there is a father - daughter dance, traditionally a waltz. And of course there is a Quinceañera cake with fifteen candles.
Dalynda and I were asked to be honorary Padrinos (God Parents) for Mariuxi'sQuinceañera. The party was held on the roof top tereza of our building. In Latin America there is often a religious aspect to the Quinceañera. Before the party we all went to the 5:00 PM Mass at the old San Francisco church in Colonial Quito; the Priest made mention of Mariuxi's Quinceañera several times during the service. Mariuxi wore her beautiful Quinceañera dress to both the Mass and the party.
This was more of an informal Quinceañera, but Mariuxi and her father did lead off with the traditional waltz, after which yours truly - the Padrino - also had the honor of a waltz with the Quinceañera. We had great food: Chancho - Ecuador pork, kind of like barbeque; Tortillas de Papa - Potato Pancakes; and good old Southern Potato Salad prepared by Dalynda and her Mother, Lilly. And plenty of beer and wine for the adults. Rum and coke were popular. And we had a traditional champagne toast (in tiny paper cups). As Padrino I was asked by some of the parents if their children could participate in the toast. I hope you are all sitting down because I made a vast pronouncement: "The children may have a sip of Champagne! The Padrino has spoken!"
Music was provided by a DJ, and there was a lot of dancing - the Padrino did the best he could. And we had a Mariachi group stop by for a performance - which is of course a Mexican tradition, but also a lot of fun in Ecuador. Lilly, my Mother-in-Law danced the night away. The Quinceañera was the center of attention, but Lilly ran a close second. It was a beautiful night with the lights of Colonial Quito all around us and a few puffy clouds in front of the stars overhead.
Here are some pictures from the Quinceañera:
Tereza Before the Fiesta - Rain Clouds Giving way to a Beautiful Night
Car Decorated for the Drive to the Church
Leaving the San Francisco Church after Mass
Lilly Talking to the Quinceañera - Padrinos, Family in the Background
Mariuxi - Beautiful Quinceañera at the Fiesta
With the Lights of Colonial Quito in the Backgtound
Dancing the Traditional Waltz with her Father.....
...........And with The Padrino
Notice the Lights of Colonial Quito in the Background
Mother-in-Law Lilly - Beautiful and Dancing the Night Away.......
........But Mariuxi is the Prettiest Girl of the Night
The Mariachi's arrive - Another Father / Daughter Dance
The Quinceañera in a Mexacan Sombrero with her Date
Yes - That is Live Well Ecuador Principal Mathieu Guillory at the Center
He Cuts Quite a Figure, Don't You Think
Fun for all Ages
Mariuxi's Younger Sister, Lucia, Dancing with her Grandfather
That is One of Lucia's Teachers Singing in the Background
Left - Amparo Guillory
Right - Dalynda, the Padrina
Father and Padrino at the End of the Fiesta
Looking a Little Worn Around the Edges (At Least the Padrino)
Tiny Shoes were Given out as a Rememberence