Many cultures have coming of age ceremonies, but one of the most extravagant may be the quinceanera .
Though slightly different throughout Latin America, for Cuban quinceanera Adriana Verdecia, this tradition includes six costume changes, a massive party and a ride through the streets of Havana, waving to admiring fans.
The practice of the quinceanera was almost destroyed in Cuba by the communist revolution a half century ago, but has come back with a vengeance. The tradition is thought to date back to when noblemen would present their daughters to society, much like the American debutantes. Now, the tradition is open to include all cross sections of society, though this inclusion is financially difficult for much of Cuba’s working class.
While the average state salary in Cuba is equivalent to $20 per month, the average quinceanera costs between $300 and $400. In order to make up for the costs, parents start saving from the time a girl is born to her 15th birthday. To some, it is more important than a wedding. “Weddings can break down,” Adrianna’s father Geovani Verdecia says. “15 is forever.”
Geovani has taken advantage of recent economic reforms to open a successful shoe repair business, but still relies on family abroad to make ends meet. Correspondent Michael Voss reports from Havana on how despite some hardships and sacrifices, Cubans are dedicated to giving their little girls the day of their dreams.