Tag Archives: Quinceanera

Alabama Dia de los Muertos Celebrates Quince Años!

 

Dia de los Muertos celebrates Quince años!

Dia de los Muertos Alabama, presented by Bare Hands Gallery, celebrated 15 years this year!  I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again…after my beloved Fiesta, this is my second favorite festival of the year.  Fiesta board members have always felt a kinship with DOD Alabama going back to our fifth year in existence.  That was the year we “discovered” one another as each of our festivals grew and that was the year we decided to support one another.

This festival has been looking for a forever home since it lost its original location last year due to the changes in the Birmingham landscape.  The Rotary Trail was completed and it just wasn’t possible to use the same area for a festival this big.  Last year, the festival temporarily moved to Cahaba Brewery and it was packed.  After the crowd that showed up, they knew they needed more space so this year they secured Pepper Place for the event.

Papel Picado lines 2nd Avenue South between the main altar area and the main stage at DOD 2017

The entrance was at 3rd Avenue South with sponsors lining the left hand side.  A portion of 2nd Avenue South was closed off to house the main stage on one side and the food court on the other.  The main altar site was in the middle between the two in a large parking area.  It was so beautiful and reminiscent of the original location.  Two large brick walls surrounded the space and were used to hang murals and other décor.  Chairs were set up around the site with fire pits as was done in the old location.  I can remember years when it was so cold that those fire pits were a God-send!  Lights were strung between the walls and papel picado was everywhere!  The Mercado was in the parking lot of Pepper Place and there were so many vendors with beautiful hand crafted items for sale!  I wanted one of everything!

This year, the set up allowed for more space and a better flow to all the event components.  The event was crowded but there was more space to walk around and not feel like you were being walked on or constantly running into someone.

I arrived at 3 p.m. to photograph some of the set up yesterday.  I always like to get there early to do this and then I stay until after sunset to take photos by candlelight and enjoy catching up with friends.  This year I had a meeting to attend from 4 to 7 so  when I got back to the site, the line to enter was down the block!  Luckily, I had pre-purchased my ticket so walked directly up to the entrance and was given my wrist band!  (Lesson to you folks who didn’t plan ahead!)

People watching at DOD is always entertaining and I love the way more and more are painting their faces as sugar skulls and dressing up.  They embrace this event and seem to take the time to understand the reason behind it…why it is important and why it exists.  It’s not just a costume party, it’s a remembrance of loved ones who have passed on and a way to keep their memories alive for ourselves and a way to tell others about them.

There is also such artistic talent in our city and so much of this talent is displayed at this event in the costumes, the unique vendor items and of course, the altar creations.  I am always inspired when I see what is created and moved to tears by at least one thing I see.  This year, there was an altar created to honor the people who have perished in the many natural disasters experienced in 2017.  It was both haunting and moving…

Here are some of my photos from last night…sometimes it’s just easier to tell the story with photographs.  Meanwhile, happy Quince to DOD Alabama…it was a fabulous event! Viva la Vida!

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My Quinceañera Cookie Exchange Party!

Can you smell the sugar?

Can you smell the sugar?

Now that Day of the Dead is over, I like to begin planning my annual cookie exchange party!  Last December was my 15th year to have a cookie swap and I always like to work with a theme.  Last year, since it was my 15th year, it made perfect sense to celebrate it as my Quinceañera!  (More on what this means in a moment!)

Every year my invitations go out at the beginning of December.  Everyone brings 12 dozen of their ONE favorite cookie and they leave with 12 dozen DIFFERENT cookies!  I always have margaritas, taquitos, and other snacks and my mother brings her homemade salsa!  I shared her recipe for this salsa last year in a blog post – check it out!  It’s delicious!

It’s always funny when someone new comes to the party.  When I say bring 12 dozen of one cookie – they usually contact me to make sure they read the invitation correctly!  So I’ve started putting on the invite – “yes, you read that right!  12 dozen of one cookie!”  Anyway…

I always make two cookies or 288 cookies total! Last year I made my usual Mexican wedding cakes and the traditional Mexican biscochitos!

I always make two cookies or 288 cookies total! Last year I made my usual Mexican wedding cakes and the traditional Mexican biscochitos!

Every year I like to have a theme for my party and a special party favor.  One year we were The Real Housewives of Birmingham and I made aprons for everyone with the Real Housewives logo!  Another year, we had tacky Christmas sweaters and I had plenty of extra sweaters for those who forgot to wear one!!!  Another year, I everyone wore their favorite Christmas pins and I gave everyone a Christmas pin as they left.  It’s sometimes a challenge to come up with something new but I love a challenge!!!

So the Quince was a fun theme to work with. As a little background…a quinceañera is a coming of age celebration for a young Latina girl.  It’s like a sweet 16 party but there are several special traditions that take place for a “quince.”  Traditions also differ for many of the Latin American countries.  For instance, in Mexico a young girl might have her Quince following a religious Catholic mass.  A young girls’ godparents will typically give her a rosary, a necklace or bracelet with the image of Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgen de Guadalupe.  She is also given a tiara as a gesture of love from her immediate family and can be interpreted as being a princess before God and the world.  The young girl also typically leaves a bouquet of flowers on the altar for the Virgin Mary.

Cross bracelets for all my guests! They also got crowns!

Cross bracelets for all my guests! They also got crowns!

Borrowing from a few of these traditions, I found some beautiful bracelets with crosses that I used as party favors.  I decorated a small gold tree with these bracelets and everyone got to choose the one that most suited their taste and personality.  I also provided everyone with small crowns to wear for the party.  Honestly, I think everyone was most excited about the crowns!!!  My friends were helping one another by teasing up their hair so the comb attached to the crowns would stay in place.  It was comical and fun and I even pulled out a can of hairspray to help out with all this!  My dog, Lucy also wore a crown – and I seriously don’t know how it stayed on her head but she looked cute and fit right in with everyone else!

Me and Lucy wearing our crowns!

Me and Lucy wearing our crowns!

Now back to the cookie swap…

All the cookies are placed on my dining room table in their original containers.  Remembers, this is 144 of one type of cookie!  The smell of sugar is always overwhelming and the presentation is always beautiful!  I encourage everyone to bring an empty container that will hold 144 cookies but in case they forget, I always provide large boxes for them to use.  Next we all gather in a circle around the table and everyone begins by taking 8 cookies from each type.  We tend to get into a bit of a bottleneck around the table and it becomes quite amusing with some of my more competitive friends who urge those ahead of them to “hurry up!”  Seriously, by the time everyone has gotten around the table, their boxes or containers are quite heavy!  Then everyone goes back to their favorite cookie and takes a few more.  It all works out in the end and everyone leaves with a beautiful assortment to share with family, friends and co-workers over the weeks leading up to Christmas.

The cookie swap begins!

The cookie swap begins!

Ideally you would have 12 friends bring 12 dozen of one cookie for everything to come out evenly.  However, over the years my party has gotten pretty popular by word of mouth and photos on social media that I have people ask if they can join in the fun!  I’m all about the more the merrier so of course, my answer is always yes!

This year will be my Sweet 16!!!  Stay tuned for some fun photos and delicious cookies!

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