For a Mexican girl, Sweet Sixteen is not really a big deal. But Sweet FIFTEEN... oh that is another story entirely.
Every young Mexican girl dreams of the day she will be a "quinceañera," and the "Quince Años" celebration, marking the birthday when she becomes a woman, will be the biggest day of a her life except for her wedding (and sometimes even fancier than that).
The rituals around a girl's 15th birthday are beloved and followed carefully, and many of them foreshadow those of a wedding. Her dress will be elaborate and lovely--she has probably been dreaming of it and sketching it out or gazing longingly in shop windows for years. Her face will be carefully made up. She will carry a floral bouquet like a bride.
A special mass in her honor will be said in the church, where she will be surrounded by parents and godparents and where school friends serve as her "court." She will enter the church a girl and leave a woman.
After church, solemness is left behind and the party begins. Our young woman will have taken dancing lessons for weeks beforehand to prepare for the traditional waltz with her father. And then everyone joins in the dancing.
Good music, good food, and lots of beer and tequila will likely send everyone home happy.
The young woman seen here on her father's arm has just emerged from her special mass in La Parroquia church on the main square of San Miguel de Allende.