August 25, 2011
Quince, Here We Come!
I know that word looks like the yellow fruit quince, but it's really "KEEN say", the Spanish word for 15. In basically any Latin culture, it's a very special birthday that signifies a girl's passage into young lady-ness. I've heard it compared to our Sweet 16, but the Quinces I've been to both here and in the U.S. are really something more than just pretty pink balloons and banners and cake.
Within the Christian community, this is a special birthday that involves a lot of ceremony and tradition. There are specific dances for the birthday girl (the quinceañera) and her father, and also one with any brothers she may have--pretty much every girl in Paraguay has a few brothers, at least!! At one point, the attendants (think bridesmaids and ushers) come up in pairs and present a scripture of wisdom or well-wishes to the birthday girl, usually something from the Psalms. Speeches full of advice are given, words of blessing spoken over her--you get the picture.
We attended our first such party in Greenville, SC, for our friend Ana Cediel. The Cediel family had recently moved from Colombia and invited us to take part in the special event. We were so thrilled at all the rich traditions, the "passing of the torch" of womanhood to this young lady, who would now be seen a little differently in her parents' eyes and the eyes of her community. When we realized we were moving to Paraguay, one of the first things I thought about was how my girls might get to have a Quince party!!!
Fast forward to today, when Camille and I are looking at pictures of dresses and planning for her upcoming 15th birthday in January. She resisted this party for a long time, on the grounds that she didn't want to dress up like a Disney princess and have everyone staring at her while she had to waltz with her Daddy. Once I explained that she could change things up a bit ("People will just say that we didn't know any better because we aren't from around here...") and wear a dress that reflected her personality more than the giant bridal gowns, she jumped on board.
Don't worry--we aren't biting the bullet totally. Ours will be on a MUCH smaller scale than the traditional version. Think mix tapes and a grocery store cake. We won't be declaring Camille to be of marrying age, and we won't be filling her dance card with the visiting fellas. She's a grounded girl who is clear on her views to grow into who God's called her to be for SEVERAL more years before jumping into that guy thing, and we're thrilled about her stand on that. But we do want to celebrate her life and encourage her to continue maturing and seeking her place in the Lord. Now to find that dress.....