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The transition from childhood to womanhood is a significant passage for adolescent girls in almost all cultures. In Mexico, it is marked with the celebration of the Quinceanera, or 15th Birthday. The celebration is a way to acknowledge that a young woman has reached sexual maturity and is thus of a marriageable age.
A Thanksgiving Mass is celebrated as the first event of the Quinceanera. The birthday girl arrives decked out in a fancy full-length dress in pastel tones and matching hats or headdresses prevail. She may be accompanied by up to maids of honor and as many chamberlains, selected from among close family and friends.
The luxury of the event is directly related to the economic means of the girl's parents and godparents, but it is known in Mexico that families usually spend more money on a Quinceanera than in a wedding party. To cover the multiple expenses, a host of godparents may be invited to sponsor, respectively, the dress, the music, the place, the bar, the cake and the table favors. The culminating moment comes when the celebrant and her number-one escort dance to a traditional waltz.