Symbolic Gifts
Quinceanera and chambelan

Many of the symbolic gifts a quinceañera might receive suggest maturity and responsibility.

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In addition to many firsts, a quinceañera will receive what's known as the "last doll." Some say this tradition came from Puerto Rico, while others claim it originated in Mexico. This is usually a porcelain doll, often dressed like the quinceañera. Once again, it's presented to her as a gift that signifies her passage into adulthood. Some families choose to have ribbons pinned to the doll that bear the name of the quinceañera and the date of the celebration. The birthday girl hands these ribbons out to guests as they leave.

Other gifts might include a Bible, a rosary, a cross or a medal, which are religious gifts that would customarily be given during the thanksgiving Mass. Also, during the Mass, grandparents might give the quinceañera 15 red roses, with the stems signifying strength and the petals signifying sweetness [source: Mills]. The family might choose to give the birthday girl a tiara and scepter, signifying responsibility. In some cultures, a birthstone ring and a bracelet are traditional gifts that represent femininity and coming of age.

Although quinceañeras and their families often pick and choose which traditions to use and which will be important to them, they obviously have plenty to choose from, each rife with symbolic meaning.