Order of Service
- Welcome and introduction of the ceremony by the minister
- Procession of Quinceañera and court
- Presentation of Quinceañera by parents
- Renewal of dedication promises
- *Statement of thanks to parents by Quinceañera
- Presentation of chalice
- Lighting of chalice by Quinceañera
- *Prayer of dedication by Quinceañera
- Presentation and Blessing of gift
- Tiara and scepter
- Bracelet and ring
- Earrings and necklace
- Response of Court
- Community response
- Homily by minister
- *Giving of flowers by Quinceañera
- *Gift by Quinceañera
- Blessing of Quinceañera by minister
- Hymn #149, "Wonders Still the World Shall Witness"
- Recession of Quinceañera and court
Welcome and introduction of the ceremony by the minister:
Welcome to this sacred celebration of emerging adulthood. We are gathered today to rejoice and bear witness as (Name) and her parents and friends mark her transition from childhood to the estate of a young woman. The Quinceañera tradition has its roots in the ancient cultures of Central and South America, and in Mexican Catholicism. It is a solemn as well as joyful custom, that honors the moment when a girl begins to take responsibility for her own values, commitments, and place in the world. As Unitarian Universalists, we do not ask (Name) to make promises to god here today; rather, we support the promises that she makes to herself, to all of us, and to her own future. She comes before this community of love and faith in order to affirm her own growth, and to receive our blessing at this turning point in her life. Let us welcome her with honor and rejoicing.
Procession of Quinceañera and court, with music
Presentation of Quinceañera by parents:
(Minister’s Name), I, (Parent), and I, (Parent), present to the congregation of the First Unitarian Society and of our family and friends, our daughter, (Name), upon the occasion of her 15th birthday. Today we acknowledge her transition from the role of our little girl, to the status of a young woman who has a part to play in the life of the larger world. We ask for her the blessing and admonition of this community, as she takes up the duties and privileges of her new place among us.
Renewal of dedication promises:
(Name), I receive you on behalf of this community of faith and invite you now to affirm in your own person, the promises that were once made for you in the ceremony of dedication, when you were a child.
Is it your intention to continue in the liberal religious tradition,
to learn all that you can, and to formulate your beliefs with intelligence and integrity?
Do you undertake to live as your parents and this community have endeavored to show you,
affirming the values of truth, justice, compassion, and the unique worth of every person?
Will you strive to grow in the light of truth and grace,
to fill your days with service to others and with songs of joy,
and to leave as your legacy a life rich in work, in aspiration, and in love?
At this moment of transition in your life, is there a message that you would like to give to your parents?
Statement of thanks to parents by Quinceañera – she writes this in advance with assistance from the minister
Presentation of chalice, engraved with congregation’s name, quinceañera’s name, and date.
On behalf of the religious education program, and the congregation of the First Unitarian Society,
I present you, (Name), with this chalice, symbol of the heritage of our free faith.
It represents all that we have learned together with you,
And our hopes and rejoicing for you as you begin your journey into adulthood and a wider world.
I invite you now to light it for the first time,
And to carry its flame in your heart everywhere you go.
Remember that we love you and believe in you,
And that this community will always be here for you.
Lighting of Chalice by Quinceañera
I light this chalice as a symbol of my commitment to the values of Unitarian Universalism.
May its light be a beacon of hope to me,
and to all who seek freedom, truth, and meaning in life.
Prayer of dedication (She writes this in advance with assistance from the minister)
Presentation and Blessing of Gifts
In a few moments, there will be a splendid party celebrating (Name)’s passage into young womanhood. At that time, she will receive a series of traditional gifts, symbolizing the duties as well as the privileges of her new status. At this moment, in the spirit of reverence, we present some of these gifts; to bless them and dedicate them to a higher meaning, so that they may serve not only for pleasure and adornment, but also to remind her of life’s more enduring values, and her responsibilities as a woman of integrity and faith.
We begin with the tiara and scepter, presented by (Sponsors). These accoutrements of a princess signify a new authority for (Name). No longer is simple childish obedience to be her highest virtue; rather, she must decide for herself what actions represent the highest good as she understands it. She is entitled to say “No” to what others ask of her, and that “No” is to be respected. This authority is not to be used arbitrarily, or for self-indulgence, but always for the sake of protecting her integrity. It also means that she has taken on responsibility for the consequences of her choices; while others will support and encourage her, they will no longer shield her from the real world results of what she does. To this purpose, we bless these gifts.
A second gift that will be offered to (Name) is a book of spiritual wisdom, presented by her god parents. This book contains prayers and teachings from many of the world’s religious traditions, that will help her to continue her journey as a person of faith. It symbolizes a growing life of the mind, and a continuing thirst for knowledge. We do not expect that she will agree with all the ideas that she will find here, but we hope that she will discover both challenge and comfort from the inspired words of many sages and saints throughout the ages of history, and realize that she is never alone in the effort to create a life that is truthful, righteous, reverent, faithful, and grounded in the beauty of the human spirit. To this purpose, we bless this gift.
A third set of gifts will be this bracelet and ring, presented by (Sponsors). These adornments are made of precious metal, but their real value is in the love and respect with which they are given, and the meaning they will have for (Name). Each is a circle, symbol of completion and wholeness, to remind her of the unending circle of life with its times and seasons, its rhythm of birth and death, its alternating tides of struggle and fulfillment. As she wears these emblems, she will remember that no one moment exists alone, but is always connected to all other moments. She will imagine the largest circle of all, the universe that contains all things, in which each of us is connected to everything that exists. By remembering these wider perspectives, she will see her own triumphs and disappointments in their true proportions, and so be safe from both arrogance and despair. To this purpose, we bless these gifts.
Finally, we acknowledge the gifts of necklace and earrings. Again, these jewels have a purpose greater than outward beauty. Earrings, presented by (Sponsor), are to remind (Name) to listen, carefully and compassionately, to other people, to the world around her, and to the quiet voice of guidance within herself. As these stones are precious, listening is a precious gift. The necklace, presented by (sponsor), is in the form of a flaming chalice, to wear as a public statement of her commitment to her religious heritage and this community of faith. It says that she is proud of her identity as a Unitarian Universalist, and that she intends to conduct herself as a representative of what that tradition means. It is a witness, to the world and to herself, that she has made a commitment to the values of truth, justice, reason, and peace as the guideposts of her life. To this purpose, we bless these gifts.
Response of court:
Damas and Chamberlains, (Name) has invited you to be part of this important day in her life, because you are the circle of friends who are growing towards adulthood with her. As she begins to move beyond the protection of her parents’ love and concern, it is you to whom she will turn more and more for example and advice. We ask you to bear witness to the beliefs she has affirmed here today, and the values she has promised to uphold. We ask you to remind her, when she is troubled, or tempted, or confused, that she has made a commitment to the kind of person she hopes to be and encourage her to be that person as she grows. We ask you also each in your own lives, to be the kind of person she can look up to and strive to be like. Will you all, for (Name)’s sake, and your own, agree to do these things?
Response of Community:
Now I would invite the gathered community of (Name)’s family, friends, and religious community also to affirm your support for her in this transition, by reading responsively the affirmation which is printed in your orders of service.
What can we tell (Name) of our collective wisdom today that will help her on her journey?
First, be assured that none of us knows all the answers to the largest questions of our existence.
You will join us in the community of doubt, discovery, and unfolding truth.
We do know that the gifts of life are given most richly
to those who embrace the world with gratitude;
who do their share of humanity’s work cheerfully;
who cherish beauty and simplicity;
who approach their fellow beings with compassion, patience, and generosity.
We do know that we are called upon to act with integrity,
and to do good to others,
even when we are weary, or in need, or misunderstood.
We do know that you must cultivate your heart, and educate your conscience,
for in the end you must trust what they tell you.
We know that you are precious to us, and that we wish for you all happiness.
We would have you to know that our blessing and care go with you on your journey,
And we promise you our steadfast friendship and support.
We are gathered here today in a celebration that is as old as human consciousness, and yet forever new. Always the generations follow one another through time; young people are impatient to grow up into their full powers, and to them, a year seems almost an eternity. To the elders, with their hard-won abilities now slipping away, a year seems scarcely long enough for a breath and a backward glance; to them, the children grow with astonishing speed, running forward out of our arms and our care, while we mourn for the babies they once were. This is a day of joy for (Name), but it is also, or should be, a moment of solemn reflection; a still center in the turning wheel of time, when we notice with all of our attention not only the tender loveliness of a young woman at the threshold of life, but the flow of time itself; when we remember the childhood years, and look forward toward all that the future may bring, with its hopes and disappointments, its promises and its inevitable pain, its gifts and losses, and all that will shape (Name), as it has shaped and will shape each one of us.
(Name), along with all of our good wishes and gifts today, we entrust you with a special responsibility; we ask you to be aware of your life, to live it with intention, to be our delegate in the continuing work of creating a better world than the one we had to offer you when you were born. We charge you to carry forward the best hopes of your family, of this community, of humankind. We hope that this will be a happy day, but not the happiest day of your life by any means, for we wish you larger accomplishments, deeper commitments, and even greater love than ours, to fill your life as it unfolds.
The ancient wisdom of many peoples teaches us that there are three eras in the life of every woman, and three passages into greater wisdom and power. The three forms of womanhood are the maiden, the mother, and the wise crone. Today we celebrate your passage into the wisdom and power of the maiden, who has not yet given her loyalty to one specific mate, or vocation, or children. The strength of the maiden is in her potential, her ability to choose from many paths, and to shape her life according to the values that she believes in. We honor this power in you, and we summon you to honor this moment in your life; to rejoice in it, and not to leave it behind prematurely. You have said that you do not wish to give yourself to the duties of marriage, or economic responsibility, or parenthood, until you are ready with thoughtful commitment to fulfill them well. May you be constant in that intention.
Yet we would not wish for you a life forever static, frozen into adolescence, that never finds its true vocation of the heart. Today you are beautiful in the flowering of youth, but know that with time, if you take to heart the lessons of life, you will grow into other forms of beauty, into the strength and generosity of motherhood, nurturing the future; and into the freedom and power of the crone, wise in the ways of the spirit. If you are faithful to life, and if life is good to you, outward beauty will become inner beauty, and you will learn to know the true value of the beautiful soul.
So I would invite you, at this moment of passage, to honor the woman you shall become as the days and decades pass, leaving your flowers here, before the image of the womanspirit of all ages. May you see in her the mirror of destiny; may the years bring you wisdom and strength, and may you greet every one of them with grace, as they come and go.
(She places flowers in front of statue or picture)
Giving of doll by Quinceañera:
(Name), as you move into a new chapter in your life, today you put away some childish things. This elegant doll is the last such toy that has been given to you as a little girl’s play thing. Now you lay aside this kind of make believe and begin to prepare for the possibilities of real adulthood, and perhaps marriage and/or children of your own some day. As part of those responsibilities, we ask you to become aware of the need and pain in the world around you. There are children not as fortunate as you, who suffer deprivation and hunger, who go without clothes, and homes, and food, much less toys. Will you give your last doll to support an organization that helps children in need, so that others may share in a small part of your joy?
Giving of gift by Quinceañera:
In the spirit of moving into a new role of independence and responsibility in a larger world, we ask of you on this day of personal celebration, to make a tangible contribution to the work and the needs of that world. Would you tell us now what you have chosen for that gift to be?
She names her chosen charity
Blessing of Quinceañera
Daughter of love, sister of truth, may you go with courage upon the path of life that lies before you.
Keep a pure heart, a free mind, a steadfast will, and a joyous song for the journey.
May you be simple in your desires, loyal in your friendships, and strong in all tribulation.
Be proud of your womanhood and serve the highest good you find with your whole devotion.
May life reward you with fruitful happiness,
and may you never forget the ideals to which you have pledged yourself today,
and the fullness of love by which you are here surrounded and blessed.
Hymn #149, Singing the Living Tradition, "Wonders Still the World Shall Witness"
May this day renew in all of us the vitality and idealism of our youth,
And enlarge our hope for the world’s next generations.
Let us cherish the dreams of those setting out upon the journey of life,
Remembering in our own conduct to offer them a worthy example,
And blessing one another in the community of universal kinship and peace.