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This morning on NPR’s Morning Addition, I listened to an interview with novelist Julia Alvarez who discussed her recent book called Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA.  According to the NPR site, “More than 350,000 Latina girls will turn 15 this year, and for many of them that means a big bash. The “quinceanera” is celebrated across Latin America and the United States. It’s a rite of passage, and a growing industry, in the United States. The average quinceanera dress can cost hundreds of dollars.” Another article with pictures can be found at this news site.

Wikipedia describes the celebrations this way:  “The Quinceañera or Quince Años (sometimes represented XV Años, meaning “fifteen years”) is, in some Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas, a young woman’s celebration of her fifteenth birthday, which is celebrated in a unique and different way from her other birthdays. In some countries, such as Puerto Rico or Peru, the word Quinceañero is used instead of Quinceañera when referring to the celebration.  The word is also used to refer to the young woman whose 15th birthday is being celebrated (analogous to the word cumpleañera for “birthday girl”). The closest equivalents to the Quinceañera in the English-speaking world are the sweet sixteen or, in more affluent communities, a debutante ball at the age of eighteen.”

In the culture in which you grew up, what marked the coming of age of girls?   What do you believe could be the significance of this type of event?  Evangelicals have recently begun having what they call Father-Daughter Purity Balls.   Are these an attempt to provide a similiar coming of age celebration for Christians girls?  Any thoughts?

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