...where did it all start?
Historians tell us that the Egyptians were the first civilization to celebrate birthdays and important occasions as soon as they became aware of the cycles of the heavens. But back then, those celebrations were reserved mainly for rulers and royalty. They were intended to shoo away evil spirits from the celebrant's life, as those spirits were thought more likely to be around at the time of a person's birthday anniversary than at any other time of the year. They gathered to celebrate, hoping their good wishes would fill the monarch's coming year with good health and good luck. (These royal origins could explain the traditional tiara, or crown, worn later on by a young girl at her fifteenth birthday celebration...also the use of "party poppers" in children's birthdays and other occasions could have originated from another old custom of scaring off evil spirits by making loud noises.)
The Egyptian birthday celebrations were filled with good food and, yes, cake--which was more of a sweet bread than a cake as we know it. Later, during the Middle Ages, cakes became increasingly popular in Germany...and we all know that today we just can't have a birthday celebration--or wedding, shower, baptism, anniversary, and so on-- without one. The creation of those cakes has, truly, become an artform.
The celebration of "Quinces" seems to have had its origin with the Mayans in Mexico and Mesoamerica. It marked a young girl's rite of passage. When the Spaniards settled in Mexico, they eventually adopted the tradition, making it more of a religious celebration. It increased in popularity after their conquest and colonization of South America.
Today, celebrating a young girl's "Quince" is still a big tradition in Latin American countries and, naturally, among the hispanic communities in the U.S., and very especially with Cubans. "Quince" celebrations can range from the traditional formal affair, with the usual court, at the appropriate salon to the more casual intimate party at home...from a trip abroad to a cruise around the islands ...but regardless of the wishes of the young ladies celebrating their "Quinces," there is one thing they all want...luckily for us...and that is to be photographed... captured being who they are right then, at that very important time in their lives.
keith knight & marilyn cole