The Quince

I am officially the mother of a quinceañero. The party was on Saturday and the house looked very festive. (Although I should say, “more festive than usual” because gringo neighbors have told me our decor looks festive at times when we weren’t celebrating anything at all.)


Besides the paper flower garland, a few banners, and colorful balloons, I also made a large collage with photos of my son. There are 14 photos in all, one for each year of his life up until now. I had originally planned to leave a spot in the middle for a photo of him as a 15 year old, but there wasn’t space.

The collage was one of many things which didn’t come out quite the way I imagined. You know how quinceañeras trade their flats for high heels? I had planned for my son to trade his sneakers for a pair of formal shoes. While he liked the idea of new shoes, he thought doing any sort of ceremony with them in front of people was “too weird.” So we bought him a pair of shoes but we didn’t do anything special with them during the party.

I had also considered a “brindis” but my family is not really the toasting type. Instead I came up with a creative way for us to “toast” the birthday boy without making a big show of things. I put a stack of index cards and pens on a table with a sign encouraging guests to write down birthday wishes, advice, or a favorite memory from his childhood. The things people wrote were really heartwarming and the cards make a great keepsake for my son.


As for the food, I had planned to make everything myself but by the time I finished making the tamales, I was so exhausted that we decided to order the pupusas from one of our favorite pupuserías, Santa Rosa in Frederick, Maryland. We were so pleased with the care they took in preparing them and packaging them that I wrote them a “thank you” card today.

Everyone enjoyed the pupusas, tamales and snacking on yucca and plantain chips.


To drink we served multiple flavors of Jarritos along with a few other choices. My older sister asked me if anyone mixes Jarritos. I told her I don’t know anyone who does but she decided to try mixing the orange and pineapple, (which she says is good.)

Although I had planned to serve the traditional tres leches, my mother offered to make the cake so I let that idea go and told her to make whatever she wanted. She wanted to make the cake look like footballer Lionel Messi’s jersey but decided the amount of dye it would take to achieve the dark red and blue of Barça was not something we should all be eating. Instead she made a chocolate and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. (The quinceañero didn’t really care what the cake looked like as long as he got to eat it.) We sang “Happy Birthday” in English but before he could blow out the candles, I started up “Feliz Cumpleaños” in Spanish – my family didn’t miss a beat and joined right in.


After cake we opened presents. The main gift was a much needed laptop which everyone chipped in on. He’ll be taking several Advanced Placement classes this coming school year so the new computer will be put to good use for sure.

That’s pretty much it. It wasn’t the biggest or fanciest quince, I didn’t have fifty primos to invite, no one danced to the salsa and cumbia music that played… While planning the quince I lamented that my family is so small, but when it comes to family it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. My family came and celebrated the life of my now fifteen year old, and he knows he is loved mucho.



  1. Young Latino men also need a rite of passage. I can see why he might have been uncomfortable with changing from sneakers into formal shoes in a public ceremony, but that was still a wonderfully original idea. My grandson just turned 10 and he is already taller than me (not hard to do, given the “chaparrita factor”). I bought him a suit (boys’ size 20!) thinking he would need one for special occasions. Maybe he would like to have a party like this one when he is a quinceañero (and already into men’s clothes!)

    • Perhaps he would! I hope more boys start celebrating their quince in a way that is at least a little extra special compared to regular birthdays. Like you said, they need a rite of passage as well and it’s a great opportunity to remember cultural roots.

  2. Now I can see the collage. Very nicely done! I’m glad the party accomplished what you set out to do in a special way. Another few years for the second one!

  3. It sounds wonderful! I’m sure he’ll always remember it. I absolutely love the collage. It almost made me tear up thinking that mine will one day be that old. What great pictures you have of him, too!! Feliz Cumpleaños to him!

    • Thanks, Susan. Yes, the college even made my son a little nostalgic. He said, “I grew up so quick.” … So true.

  4. He is really handsome! Okay, I’m not a cougar so sorry for the comment :lol:

    I can’t believe you have a 15 years old. You are too young for that! I remember reading your story, when he was so little… wow. They do grow up fast!

    • LOL, that’s okay – he is handsome :)

      That’s right – you used to read my older blog way back in the day when the boys were real little. Crazy how fast the time has gone by.

  5. Tracy, I did a double-take when I saw this post, along the lines of, “I didn’t know Tracy had a daughter.” When I read it better, of course, I saw the o in quinceañerO. How cute!

    Was this your own innovation, or are a lot of hispanic families extending the quinceañera tradition to boys as well?

  6. Congratulations and Happy Birthday to your son. He’s such a handsome young man and I can see he is dearly loved by his family. The fiesta looked like it was a lot of fun! Can’t wait to have a quince for my son.

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