Guest Author - Wilmar LunaAged like fine wine
You know, depending on where you were born and where you grew up. Birthdays can either be the greatest day of your life or . . . Monday. As a Latin American living in the United States, I can tell you that my culture takes birthdays -very- seriously.
In my family, we have a tradition for celebrating all birthdays. First we’ll go out to dinner at a restaurant and have a nice, enjoyable evening. Then we’ll come home, sing happy birthday in both English and Spanish, and eat cake of either ice cream or pastry. Typical birthday.
But this is just a minor celebration. If I had been born a girl and was turning 15 then good God, get ready for a freaking party! We call it a quinceañera, which is basically sweet 15. For Americans this may mean renting out a hall, decorating it with balloons, and blasting some music. Also known as a sweet 16.
The party also doesn’t start at a hall. No, the first thing they’re going to do to kick off the festivities is go to church.
Depending on what part of Latin America you come from, the girl may have to light fifteen candles
representing the people most influential in her life and then give a speech dedicated to these individuals. Then after mass they’ll go to a rented out hall where the girl will have a first dance and then a family dance and then party until it’s practically two or three in the morning.
Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. So big in fact that it has its own wikipedia entry which you can view here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinceañera
The most memorable quinceañera I went to was for my cousin. They rented out a hall in West New York and gathered all of her closest guy friends to do a choreographed dance number. They were all dressed in tuxedos and danced like little ballerinas while twirling ribbons of paper. Then they would form a tunnel and my cousin would walk through and meet her father on the other end. My cousin and her father held hands and transitioned into a classic waltz.
There were also a few tears. When my cousin and her mother took their turn to dance, they played Marc Anthony’s “My Baby You” and wow. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. All for a birthday party, can you believe that?
Why is a sweet 15 such a big deal? Well supposedly that’s the age where the girl finally becomes a woman. I personally think they should add five years to that number but I am not the one who made these rules.
For some cultures, they don’t celebrate birthdays at all. A birthday is just another regular day in the giant calendar that is life. Though I am not a party animal in any sense of the word, I do think people should celebrate birthdays at least as an excuse to come together. It shouldn’t be viewed as an event to celebrate the person but as a reason to be appreciative of the life currently lived.
Each year is a reason to be grateful for what we have and to cherish the fact that we can still draw breath. The day of your birth was a momentous occasion and brought smiles to the people who surround you. As we get older we musn’t allow these days to become insignificant to us. Though it doesn’t need to be celebrated with a giant fireworks spectacular or a decadent party, it should be shared and celebrated with the people you love.
It should be spent with family or those you call family and you should allow yourself to take a moment, stare at the flame on top of your candle, close your eyes, make a wish, and smile. For a birthday is the one day of the year that you can call your day and those you love want you to be
happy and to enjoy your very special day.
And to eat your cake. Lots of cake.
Wilmar Luna is the author of The Silver Ninja superheroine series. He can be found on twitter @WilmarLuna and his books will be available at www.thesilverninja.com
Wilmar Luna (1984) was born in Trenton, New Jersey, to Guatemalan immigrant parents, born in the United States, grew up in Hamilton, New Jersey, and studied Television production at Mercer County Community College. For 10 years he has written and re-written his first book, The Silver Ninja while juggling a career as a video editor and a motion graphics artist. In 2012, he decided that it was finally time to publish The Silver Ninja—for real. With the obstacle of publishing the first book out of the way, the future looks bright for more Silver Ninja storylines.
The Silver Ninja #1 - due to be re-edited & re-released.
The Silver Ninja: Indoctrination #2