Will I Regret Not Having A Quinceanera?

By Nicole Cobar

Nicole CobarCulture and ethnicity have always been a touchy subject for me. Before I was entered school, I never thought about either one of those subjects. This may be because in my household these subjects don’t matter.

I live in a mixed-race household. Before my parents met, they practiced different cultures, had different native tongues and followed different religions. When they met, it was almost like they both gave up those pieces of themselves; they gave up their cultures. Now, my family lives in a pretty neutral household.

I do consider myself neutral. I am almost a blank slate. I do not practice a religion. I do not associate with any race or ethnic group. I do not follow cultural traditions. The only traditions I do follow are the ones I have started with my family, like our annual haunted house, or the American traditions of fireworks on the Fourth of July and turkey on Thanksgiving. This notion of not following a culture was familiar to me, and I did not start to question- or even think about it- until very recently.

Last December, with my 15th birthday coming up, my dad starts to get calls, from my aunts, uncles, godparents, and my grandmother, all wondering if I was going to have a quinceanera. My extended family was all surprised when they found out that I was not going to have one.

For Hispanics, quinceaneras are a huge deal. It is a celebration that marks the end of childhood and the beginning of womanhood. Families spend thousands of dollars, rent out venues, buy several big dresses, fly in the family, and rehearse dances in preparation for a quinceanera. If you think about it, there is no real reason to have a quinceanera, other than because it is a part of the culture someone was raised in and identify with. Even though I am part Hispanic, I was not raised with this culture. So, when my 15th birthday came along, just shrugged it off. The thought of having a quinceanera did not cross my mind until my parents brought it up to me. I kindly passed on the offer.

I was born several months before my many of my friends. So, now these friends are turning 15 and having quinceaneras of their own. In the past month, I have attended three quinceaneras, and have noticed something special about this celebration. When you enter a quinceanera there is just an energy in the room that unmatched. I see how happy they are, how proud their parents look. Families, no matter how distant or dysfunctional, join for a night of pure happiness and celebration. Everyone, no matter how old or how young, is smiling, laughing, and dancing. If you look at it that way, quinceaneras are kind of amazing.

Still, I do not regret not having a quinceanera. I do not believe one party can change or influence a person in any major way. The bigger thought behind this post is more about me not identifying with a culture. It does not bother me now, however, I can not help but wonder if it will bother me. Will I regret not being apart of a huge group of people who practice the same thing I do? Will I want to be part of that huge group of people I can connect and bond with? Will I regret not learning about my parents’ cultures when they are no longer here to share it with me?

I cannot say for sure, but I hope not. A life of regret is not something I would look forward to.