This paper explores the meaning of the symbols embedded within the quinceaera, a fifteen-year-old Chicanas birthday party. The ceremony in Chicago includes both a religious and secular component and has become more extensive in the urban U.S. than it has been in rural Mexico. Three positions are advanced: (1) The ceremony is an adaptation to the economic and social marginality of Chicanos in a U.S. city, (2) the ceremony is a transitional cultural phenomenon as it implied the need to maintain “Mexicanness” when they are becoming more Anglo, and (3) the ceremony represents urbanized traditionalism emphasizing continuities with the past despite social changes. It is argued that the third hypothesis has more validity. The ceremony serves to promote the separate identity of Chicanos in an increasingly complex society and the richness and power of the symbols permit the construction of different meanings by the different audiences: the adult men, the adult women, and the youth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)