We do quinceañeras - that’s something that we carry down.: Becoming Minnesotan

Anna Amaya in her new home, Moorhead, Minnesota, July 2, 2000.
  • Name - Anna Amaya
  • Age at interview - 53
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 01.01.2010
  • Martha Noyola at her Quinceaňera with her parents. Minnesota Historical Society.

    We Are Here

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    For Mexican Americans Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a very important religious figure. According to tradition the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant near Mexico City in 1531 and ordered him build a church in her honor at that site. This church is an important shrine for Mexican Catholics and this version of the Virgin has become a national symbol of Mexico. Her Saint’s Day is celebrated on December 12 each year by Mexicans and Mexican Americans with processions carrying a statue of her through the streets.

    The Quinceañera is a special tradition found throughout Latin America and commonly celebrated in the U.S. It is a party celebrating a girl’s fifteenth birthday and her entry into womanhood. The party always includes waltzing or other dances and the birthday girl wears a big formal dress and often a tiara. In Mexico the celebration may also include a Mass at church.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Anna Amaya (AA)

    Interviewer: Abner Arauza (AbA)

    AbA: Have you made a deliberate effort to pass on some of these cultural traditions to your children?

    AA: Yeah. Like I said when we would go down to Texas, my kids always were with us. They were always with us. Like when we celebrate La Virgen de Guadalupe, when they do their first communion, their baptismal, that’s real important. I’ve gone to baptismals where kids are just dressed up in a little suit. Not with us; with us it’s their white gown, their white shoes, everything has to be pure. It has to be white. When we do the quinceañeras. That’s something that we carry down. I tell my daughters, “Your kids are getting at that age, and you better start saving money for their quinceañera. And teach them what it is, the quinceañera. It’s not just this big party. It’s not just this big dance and party for this teenager. No, there’s certain rules for the quinceañera and you need to teach your child how to be…” That’s the thing of the quinceañera. So, yeah, we do keep a lot of traditions.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: A Christian sacrament commemorating the Last Supper of Christ.


    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.


    Adjective: Intentional; on purpose.


    Noun: The celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and in communities of immigrants from Latin America.


    Noun:  A custom that is practiced within a group.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2194