Welcome to this blog which is dedicated to providing a forum for a civil discourse on a variety of issues to try and make our society a truly better place for all. While the views expressed are strictly my personal opinions, please feel free to join in on these conversations accepting the premises that every attempt will be made to ensure that nothing but the truth be spoken and the truth be heard.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rite of Passage

Recently, my wife and I were invited to attend a Quinceanera celebrating the 15th birthday of the daughter of a Hispanic friendBeing our first, we had no idea what to expect and were somewhat apprehensive as to what the exact protocol would be.  More on this later, but first let me provide some background and history on this event of which I had very little knowledge.

Many cultures and religions have their own unique way of celebrating the maturation of their young.  They include events like Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Debutante Balls, First Haircuts, Sweet Sixteen Parties, Baptisms, Confirmations, Hazings and Circumcision, all known to most of us, but less known are the practices of Breeching (Western European), Dokimasias (Greece), Russ (Norwegian), Scarification (many cultures), as well as a whole host of ceremonies from Hinduism, Buddhism and Native American origins.  But it is the Quinceanera from the Hispanic culture that is today's topic.  It usually begins with a religious ceremony to honor God and then progresses to a festive social event that involves family, friends, music, food and dance which can last for hours.  Our experience began with the reception which began at 4:00pm and was scheduled to end at 1:00am the following morning.    

We arrived at 4:30 and were warmly greeted at the front door of the event center where all tables had been elaborately decorated with red and white table cloths, angelic figurines and miscellaneous items which turned out to be favors for attendees.  In addition there was a separate table, obviously for the honoree and her court, as well as a table full of ornately decorated cakes.  At that early hour there were many empty tables so we chose one in the center of one side of the room.   Almost immediately the mother and sister of honoree came over to thank us for coming, after which we were served our own large bottle of soft drink.  Shortly thereafter delicious food began arriving starting with a soup, then chips and salsa and ending with a plate of beef, rice and tortillas.  As the evening progressed, the room began to fill up with family and friends of all ages in an array of festive dress, even including very young children who added a fun element to the occasion because they seemed to enjoy themselves the most.  Throughout the meal soft melodic music played in the background at the direction of the master of ceremonies who manned a very impressive sound system on an elevated stage located at one end of the room.

Sometime around 6:30pm the honoree and her court, which turned out to be four young men, made their entrance to the delight of all who had gathered by then.  She was dressed in an ornate full-length ball gown and they in formal attire.  At that point the flavor of music changed to Latino, to which they made a grand entrance that was beautifully choreographed with intricate steps and precise movements, ending with her being elevated on the shoulders of two members of the court as confetti inundated the room.  At that point she was presented with a large box containing gifts from her many girl friends who were there.  Then the honoree was seated in the center of the room where her fraternal grandmother placed a tiara on her head, followed by the gift of her last doll (dressed similar to the honoree) from her maternal grandmother which was then taken away by her maternal great-grandmother all in a very precise and ceremonial fashion.  A sparkling beverage was then poured into champagne glasses for everyone to toast the honoree.  Her father began to dance with her to the wonderful music which had continued throughout all of these proceedings,
followed by an arranged set of relatives all individually announced as they tagged in (think wedding reception).

After the above dancing segment, the honoree and her court left the room which by now was full of friends and guests.  Sometime later they all re-appeared in informal clothing and began another choreographed dance sequence with the honoree dancing separately with each of the members of her court to entirely different music and steps.  How she was able to persuade four young teenage boys to master all of the moves they showed beginning with their grand entrance is beyond me, but I do know that they all practiced for many weeks prior to the evening because I asked one of them how they mastered everything.  By then the music was getting louder and more youthful, so my wife and I bid our goodbyes and quietly left.  I understand that the celebration did in fact continue until 1:00am, but for the four and a half hours we were there we had one of the most fun, entertaining and enlightening evenings we have ever had, including being warmly welcomed by everyone there. It just goes to prove that one should always welcome the opportunity to engage in experiences outside one's culture and comfort zone.   To learn more about this amazing celebration in the life of a young Hispanic girl, go to http://www.quinceanera-boutique.com/quinceaneratradition.htm.

ARTISTS - Visual and Musical
Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com 
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html 
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com 
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com 
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com 
Matt McLeod at http://matt@mattmcleod.com 
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com  
Will Barnet at http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,17315,23628,23670,24472,25834,26095,26328,26562,26637,26761,26790,26849,26992,27095,27126,27139,27147,27178&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=will+barnet&cp=9&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=xpfETMT1O4L6lwf66ugE&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQwAQ&biw=1350&bih=501
Barry Thomas at http://barrythomasart.com  
Sherry Williamson at http://meowbarkart.com
Julie McNair at http://juliemcnair.com  
Phoebe Lichty at http://phoebelichty.com

Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com 
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com 
Boswell Mourot Fine Art at http://boswellmourot.com

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