• Future

The “Festival of the Fifteen-Year-Olds” at Aldea Infantil
¡Con los mejores deseos para todos los quinceañeros de la Aldea Infantil!*

  • Future

Our read­ers who have followed our reports on the Aldea Infan­til in Guatemala will have realised that Valdivia is not only involved in mate­r­i­al support for the children’s village. Numer­ous person­al contacts have been estab­lished, such as Daniel Bauer’s visit to Guatemala in the spring. In future, members of our team will there­fore also be trav­el­ling to Guatemala regu­lar­ly and work­ing on specif­ic projects there, such as the construc­tion of a new green­house. This live­ly exchange allows us to take part in the lives of the chil­dren and carers and also get to know and under­stand their culture better — for exam­ple, the special signif­i­cance of the 15th birth­day in Latin Amer­i­ca and the very special way in which the festi­val is cele­brat­ed at Aldea Infantil.

The Quinceañera — origins and significance

In most cultures, the tran­si­tion from child to fully-fledged member of soci­ety is a special moment for the chil­dren them­selves and for their rela­tives. A special 15th birth­day party to mark this occa­sion is cele­brat­ed through­out Latin Amer­i­ca; immi­grants from this region have also popu­larised it in the USA. The tradi­tion prob­a­bly has its origins in Europe — espe­cial­ly Spain — as well as in the indige­nous Mayan and Aztec cultures.

From colo­nial times until the 20th centu­ry, it was a cele­bra­tion only for 15-year-old girls, the “quinceañeras”. By this time, they had learnt every­thing they need­ed to know to be a wife, house­wife and moth­er. The festiv­i­ties were then the moment when the father intro­duced the girl to prospec­tive spous­es. Howev­er, life expectan­cy used to be very low, even lower for women: 15-year-olds were consid­ered adults and getting married as early as possi­ble was desir­able for everyone.

Today, the picture has changed consid­er­ably. It is no longer about girls getting married quick­ly, and boys also cele­brate the festi­val as a symbol­ic tran­si­tion into adult­hood. The family’s commit­ment should also show their support for the entry into the new phase of life — the begin­ning of inde­pen­dence for girls and boys. Parents organ­ise a partic­u­lar­ly lavish party for this purpose; recent­ly, howev­er, young people often prefer to go on an outing. Those who can afford it organ­ise both.

The Festi­val for“fifteen-year-olds” at Aldea Infantil

The Aldea Infan­til village also follows this tradi­tion and aims to teach chil­dren about the culture of their home coun­try, which they would other­wise never have got to know. Howev­er, there is one differ­ence. Sever­al chil­dren in the village often turn 15 in one year, which is why the Aldea Infan­til organ­is­es the “cele­bra­tion of fifteen-year-olds” as a joint cele­bra­tion for every­one on one day at the end of Novem­ber or begin­ning of Decem­ber — in 2023 this was ((date?)). There’s cake for every­one, and the birth­day boys and girls get fancy suits and dress­es — usual­ly from second-hand shops. This is an unfor­get­table day for every year group, and the other chil­dren and staff are also happy to get out of their usual routine on this day.

So we at Valdivia also send our best wish­es for the future to the quinceañeras and quinceañeros of this year and look forward to witness­ing their further development!

*With best wish­es for all fifteen-year-olds at Aldea Infantil!


Stiftung Kinderzukun­ft (The Children’s Future Foundation)

Rabenaus­traße 1a, D‑63584 Grün­dau, Germany
Hans-Georg Bayer
Manag­ing Director
Fon: +49 60 51 48 18 14
Fax: +49 60 51 48 18 10
Email address: hans-georg.bayer@kinderzukunft.de
Inter­net: www.kinderzukunft.de

Make your dona­tions payable to

Bank: Commerzbank Hanau
IBAN: DE79 5064 0015 0222 2222 00

Please state  ”Valdivia Zukun­ft — Kinder­dorf Guatemala“ as a reference.

(Image source: Stiftung Kinderzukunft)