La Quinceañera — A timeless tradition

Hispanic Heritage Month

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — For many Latinas, one of the most memorable birthdays is their Quinceañera.

The transition from childhood to womanhood is an important event in almost any culture. 

Hispanics, however, mark this memorable occasion with the celebration of a Quinceañera or a sweet 15.

The quinceañera tradition is believed to have started many years ago when the Spanish conquistadores brought the tradition to Mexico and others say the tradition originated with the Aztecs. 

Centuries later, thousands of families all over the Rio Grande Valley still celebrate the tradition today.

It all starts with a vision, the party many young Hispanic girls grow up dreaming about.

“I’ve been thinking about this since I was 10-years-old,” said Kendall Gandarilla, a 14-year-old who will be having her quinceañera this year. “I’m so excited.”

The entire night is filled with amazing music, great traditional food, family, friends and lots of dancing.

 “As they’re growing up, it’s part of their dreams,” said Evelyn Ruiz- Lopez, owner of Princess Bridal and Quinceañera.

It’s a fantasy that Evelyn Ruiz-Lopez has been turning into a reality for young girls for more than three decades.

“We have had this family-owned business close to 35 years now,” said Ruiz.

Princess Bridal and Quinceañera in Mission, Texas is run by a mother and her two daughters.

“We already have grandmothers that brought their daughters, then their daughters brought their daughter, so we have had 3 generations coming to purchase their quinceañera dresses,” said Ruiz-Lopez.

The Ruiz family tells ValleyCentral the feeling remains magical throughout every generation.

“The quinceañera culture has been around for centuries and the way it came about was back in Veracruz when conquistadores started coming in. They were Catholic and they followed sacraments,” explained Ruiz, “They knew if they were to present a girl, she had to wear white and that’s how the dress came about. It was originally a white dress.”

But over the centuries, society has changed its color and style.

“Throughout time it’s evolved where it was pink dresses and girls were introduced into society as a young lady coming into age, celebrating her birthday and her coming of age and through that, society has changed,” said Ruiz, “Over time girls have modified it, different lengths, different styles, different things they want to do. The sky is the limit.”

The color and style of the dress aren’t the only things that have changed.

“The pandemic hit us hard, it hit the industry very hard,” said Ruiz.

Every month the RGV boutique would sell about 80 dresses.

That number went down dramatically during the pandemic

“When the pandemic hit we were lucky to sell 5,” said Ruiz.

But the Ruiz family isn’t letting that stop the show.

Every day young women, fill up Princess Bridal and say ‘yes’ to the dress that will make their quinceañera the most perfect night to remember.

“It’s the beauty of Hispanic culture,” said Ruiz.

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