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QUINCEANERA: Ceremony marks girl’s transition to womanhood

  • Quinceanera-grandma-dance-Rios

    Both Lucie Perales, 78, center left, and her granddaughter, Quinceanera Brittney Rios shed tears as they dance together during the reception.

    <The Blade/Katie Rausch
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  • Quinceanera-Brittney-and-Isaiah

    Brittney Rios, center, practices her choreographed dance with Isaiah Zaptata, 18, left.

    <The Blade/Katie Rausch
    Buy This Image

Quinceanera-grandma-dance-Rios

Both Lucie Perales, 78, center left, and her granddaughter, Quinceanera Brittney Rios shed tears as they dance together during the reception.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Bam! POW! Boom!

There’s no doubt about it, Brittney Rios’ recent quinceanera celebration, a Latin American tradition that marks a 15-year-old’s transition to womanhood, was a big hit.

It was a Super Heroine affair, complete with Superman and Batman-like costumes worn by Brittney, of Toledo, and her court, which consisted of 14 damas (females) and 15 chambelanes (male escorts, including Brittney’s escort).

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from the ceremony and reception

The group wowed the crowd of onlookers by performing a well-choreographed “Superman-dance” during the reception at the Milbury Firemen’s Hall on April 26. Waiting to be gobbled up was a four-tiered cake decorated with well-known super-hero characters like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Bat Man, and Super Man.

It was a modern day twist to a coming-of-age tradition that has its roots in ancient Aztec society, which flourished from the 14th to 16th century in what is now known as Mexico, said Brittney’s mother, Lulu Perales.

The quinceanera began with the Misa de Accion de Gracias (Mass of Thanking) at SS Peter and Paul Church in South Toledo. The Rev. Juan Francisco Molina led the blessing, which is full of symbolic practices.

Among them were:

● The headpiece that Brittney wore at the beginning of the mass was exchanged for a tiara during the mass. The tiara symbolizes that she is now a princess before God.

● A scepter given to her was a symbol that she will be taking on more adult roles in the family and society.

● The gift of a Bible is a reminder to always remember the word of God; a cross and rosary symbolize the faith of the quinceanera (birthday girl).

●During the mass, Father Molina reminds Brittney that with adulthood comes great responsibility. He stresses the importance of family. He tells her there’s a difference between love and lust, but he warns her: “As an adult don’t be afraid to say ‘I love you’ or to show affection to those you love.”

Quinceanera-Brittney-and-Isaiah

Brittney Rios, center, practices her choreographed dance with Isaiah Zaptata, 18, left.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Later, during the reception more traditions are recognized. For example, according to tradition it’s assumed the quinceanera has never worn high-heeled shoes. During a short ceremony Brittney took off the sneakers she was wearing and put on the high-heeled shoes that she was presented.

Each sponsor of the quinceanera, which can cost thousands of dollars, get an opportunity to dance with the quinceanera, including Brittney’s mother and father, Robert Rios. The most touching moment came with Lucia Perales, 78, danced for several minutes with her granddaugher before both women embraced, crying tears of joy and sadness because a childhood has come to an end.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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