I received the following message on Facebook yesterday from someone I know:
Sponsors by XXXXX on Friday, XXXXX 9, 2012 at 2:16pm · For those of you included in this note, you either are family or are a cherished extention to our immediate family and consider you a part of it already. You all know that Michelle’s Quinceanera is next Saturday, XXXXXX 17. If I have not spoken with you personally, I would like you to consider being a sponsor for the event. This requires you to donate what you want towards a certain part of the evenings events. Recognition includes your name on the program as a sponsor. We want everyone to feel as though you had a part in making this a grand celebration for all family and friends that attend. Things you can donate towards include: The rental of the community center, Food, DJ, Pictures, and Decorations The sooner I know if you are interested, the sooner I can finish making the programs. Please let me know if you have any questions or are intrested. Love, XXXXX and XXXXX XXXXX
This is AFTER I received a note that it is also their son’s 17th birthday, and that he likes Xbox games and cash. 0310-12
I know there are some who will argue that sponsoring weddings and Quineaneras (a 15th birthday party common in Mexico for girls) is culturally expected as a system to involve family and friends in major milestones in a family’s children’s lives. However, the Ehell perspective is that one should never, ever have to solicit funds from people allegedly closest to you. If you have to ask, you are begging and there is nothing culturally positive about being a panhandler.
Etiquette Hell’s Rules of Money:
Rule 1: No one owes you their money. You should never have an expectation that you are somehow deserving or owed someone else’s money. You want a big, blow out celebration then work for it, save for it, budget what you can afford and depend on no one to pull off an event that exceeds your financial resources. Relational proximity is not a requirement that people must share their congealed sweat (money) with you.
Rule 2: Soliciting sponsors, asking for money, web sites asking for money or any of the other creative ways people try to extract money from others is politely referred to on Ehell as “pulling”. A person “pulls” money from others instead of others taking the initiative to “push” money on you. If you have to “pull” to get money, you are a beggar. If the only way family will give you money is for you to beg for it, consider the possibility that you may have been played for a fool by someone who prefers to see you humiliated into begging before doling out the cash. Grow up, stiffen your spine and refuse the role of beggar as beneath your dignity.
Rule 3: People who love you will know the need for money and take the initiative to “push” money on you. The key word here is “INITIATIVE”. If more people were spontaneously generous perhaps this would stifle the trend for people to go begging. I’ve never understood why relatives and close friends of a soon-to-be 15 year old girl do not take the initiative to give money as sponsors of her Quinceanera if having sponsors is culturally expected. In my culture, we are always finding ways to push money on the younger generation when they truly need it. This grandma would be the first in line to pony up sponsorship money for a granddaughter’s big milestones in life, assuming her parents had not raised her to be expecting that grandmom owed her. But then, maybe that ingrained expectation that “family owes me” may be why some people are compelled to go begging when generous wallets have shriveled from the repeated onslaughts.
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“We want everyone to feel as though you had a part in making this a grand celebration for all family and friends that attend.”
Oooooh! I love the way people always write this when they ask for money! We want them to know you’ve touched their life. We want you to feel a part of it. Yet somehow they ignore the fact you can do this in a hundred ways that don’t involve giving money…
I am increasingly of the opinion that if you choose to bring children into the world then it’s your responsibility to pay for them, or help them pay for themselves. I didn’t have big birthday celebrations because 1. I couldn’t afford them and 2. My parents couldn’t either.
I’ve never invited anyone to a celebration of mine with the expectation they should bring a gift or make any sort of financial contribution. Why, then, would I expect to pay for someone else to have a party on me?
Asking for padrinos and madrinos from close family and friends IS an accepted part of the quince tradition and is NOT the etiquette breach here. Financial sponsorships are a part of the event – the adults in the girl’s life are supposed to guide her into marriageable age/adulthood. Being asked to be a padrino or madrino is supposed to be an incredible honor. The letter writer seems unfamiliar with this part of the quince, so perhaps she is in a blended family and *needs* to be told. If she is not asked and is close to the girl, then traditionally the family is sending another kind of message to her.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a serious etiquette breach here. Lots of them, in fact. Padrinos and madrinos should never be asked via a facebook message – this is a formal event and demands the courtesy of a close meeting! (Especially when dealing with someone who may not understand sponsors, because then you’ll have to explain what sponsors do, the dances, the meanings of everything…) You wouldn’t dash off a Facebook message to ask someone if they would give you away at your wedding, or be their child’s godparent – and that’s the equivalent of what the family here has done. It seems like the family is somewhat of a gimme-pig anyway. And, it doesn’t sound like the letter writer considers herself close enough to these people to be a madrino.
I’ve found that, with the rise of ultra-expensive Sweet 16 parties carrying over into other age traditions, many families now discard the meaning behind quince and instead go for the money and glamour. A traditional quince, asking for sponsors and all, is beautiful because it reinforces all the bonds within a girl’s community. Going about it wrong, as this family is doing, only drives a wedge.
Spelling: “madrinas” instead of “madrinos.”
I love the wording – the part where if you are receiving this note then you are either family or considered a cherished member of the family. Should everyone receiving this message feel privledged to be given the chance to contribute? Part of a select group of people? Or perhaps – this message was received by a hundred members of the family – and the program lists pages and pages of these “sponsors.”
In my immediate family when a special celebration is going to occur – we all offer to help in making it happen by bringing part of the meal, cleaning or helping to decorate. It isn’t expected – no one tells me to make the potato salad – or come early to help or clean up afterwards – it is offered and we want to help. In return – when I throw a party of my own – I don’t expect or ask for any help. It is my party – I’m perfectly capable of paying for it and doing everything myself but the offers do come in and the help is appreciated.
I don’t know about Rule 3.
Sometimes people who love you just don’t have any money.
My grandmother had 30+ grandchildren and great-grandchildren and she loved them all very very much, but she had no income. Not matter how much she wanted to “push” money on anyone, she just couldn’t.
That still didn’t stop some of my relatives from expecting money from her, unfortunately. Probably because they saw Rules like #3 somewhere.
My understanding also is that it is culturally accepted to be “solicited” to be a sponsor. Being asked is supposed to be an honor–I guess in much the same way that you would ask someone to be a god-parent, etc. And you don’t presume to be someone’s godparent, so culturally, you would expect to be asked.
However, I have never heard of someone being asked via email or Facebook. And the traditional sponsored expenses I have heard of being asked for are things like her first pair of heels, the gown, tiara, scepter, a Bible, rosary, cross, last doll, or her bouquet.
I have never heard it said that sponsors are supposed/expected to contribute to the party expenses.
I would imagine with these sorts of things, members of the culture know what is expected. So, you don’t have to say, “Hey, Maria’s Quinceanera is coming up. We need money.” It’s probably talked about in general terms, “Maria’s Quinceanera will be this April! We’re so excited!” and people who want to contribute speak to the parents and make the arrangements that they can afford. I would also imagine that these sponsors get some sort of say in the festivities. So if a padrinos or madrinos wants to (for example) pay for a band, I would imagine that if they want to pay their good friend’s son’s band to play, it’s rude for the guest of honor or her parents to say, “No, I want this other band.” I sincerely doubt that everybody just smiles and hands over a huge check.
jgoodlan – thanks for pointing that out!
If you MUST contact everyone in a computer written format, and please have the decency to use mail-merge, so that everyone gets thier own addressed letter. None of this “If you’re getting this, you must be family,” business. It doesn’t take a genius to program in “Dear Uncle Juan,” and “Dear Great-Aunt Juanita” into the letters. And mail may have gone up, but it’s not THAT expensive.
And even if you email it, you can still use cut and paste, so that each person gets the same message, but an individually addressed email.
Come ON, people. Show some courtesy by addressing people as loved individuals. IF it truly is an honor (and culturally it may be), then it should be presented in an honorable manner.
Actually, acr, that is part of what’s expected. It’s nice if a padrino or madrina is a professional baker and donates a cake, or is a dressmaker and donates the dress – but unless your services are genuinely good enough to be a professional, you are expected to allow the honoree to choose something. Something that’s within what you are able to pay, yes, but the honoree gets to choose. Since it can take two years to plan and fund a quince, you want stable, reputable professionals. If a friend’s son’s band knows the quince songs and is an experienced quince band – traditional and polished because of the elaborately-choreographed processions and dances – then fine, but it’s not a kind of “stone soup” party where anything you can bring is acceptable.
Even the small quinces I have been to have had everything planned down to the smallest detail, nothing left to chance. The small town in Costa Rica where I used to live considered a quince more important, more planned, and more elaborate than any other event in a girl’s life, even a wedding. The sponsors made it possible for the family to afford to host the entire town the way they were expected to, and for the girl, who had usually been in charge of younger siblings and helping take care of the household, to enjoy the one day in her life that would be about her and her wishes before she was expected to get married and become a wife and mother and live devoted to the church and her family.
I usually hate absolute rules, because there is always the possibility of an exception that can make one a liar for having posited it- but I agree wholeheartedly here. Money and other gifts, favors, time and benefits are the byproduct of relationship, an outward expression of an existing love. I suppose that asking for such an expression is akin to lovers begging kisses, children begging toys and pets begging treats from all and sundry- usually considered quite rude.
I didn’t read this as, “We would like to honor you in the ceremony.” All I saw here was, “You are one of the lucky people we’ve chosen to give us money!” That isn’t right.
Even if culturally it is expected for the family to reach out to others for financial contributions, it’s offensive to do so in so impersonal a way. At the very least, each of these “family or are a cherished extention to our immediate family” members should have gotten a phone call.
Also, it could be the wording of this “invitation” but it doesn’t seem that all of the people who got this email were coming to the quince. Whether that is because they couldn’t come, or weren’t invited to do so, it is even worse to then ask them to pay for it.
MoniCAN, I think you’re misreading Rule 3. It doesn’t require that “people who love you” should push money on you. It says that people who WANT to give you money AND love you will push money on you.
Just because something is a tradition in a culture does not mean it is good or worthwhile. That is why we have counter-culture.
My stepfather is from Northern Mexico and as I understand it, close friends and family volunteer to sponsor something. We had to be instructed since my side is hillbilly white and had never heard of a 15th BD party being a big shindig. Our ignorance aside, I don’t think anyone was solicited to pay for something, the family and friends fought over the various honors.
It was a very fun party.
I’m not of the culture/ethnicity that has Quinceaneras, but living in Southern California where the Quinceanera is a major event for many families, I’ve attended a few and my daughter has attended more for her friends.
FWIW, some years back there was an attempt by the Catholic hierarchy here in SoCal to try to put the brakes on what was perceived to be a trend towards out-of-control burgeoning of Quinceanera parties as huge, bloated party events that families would even go into debt for. The origins and to some extent the justification of the Quinceanera are religious, they mark a girl’s assumption of the cultural and spiritual responsibilities of an adult upon completion of her religious instruction in the Catholic church. There is also somewhat of a secular side, which is somewhat like a debutante party: the formal introduction of a girl into society as a young woman who can be courted for marriage.
The Catholic hierarchy here in SoCal tried to work to re-emphasize the religious aspects of the Quinceanera to try to support families in having more reasonable financial planning for the event: by de-emphasizing the debutante aspect and encouraging families to place more emphasis on the spiritual side of the event, they hoped to stop some of the wildly over-the-top excesses that had taken over.
They really didn’t have a lot of luck with this, because the Quinceanera had assumed importance as a mark of a family’s social and financial status: the bigger the blow-out it became, the higher status the family could claim in the community. That’s pretty much a universal thing: “sweet sixteen” parties, debutante balls and celebrations, bar and bat mitzvahs, even to some extent prom celebrations all have the same element of marking the family’s social standing, and the bigger and more glitzy the celebration, the higher social and financial status the family can claim.
I agree in general with admin’s rules on etiquette of pushing and pulling money for celebrations, but I also think that expecting reasonableness in situations where people are concerned with how they appear to others in terms of their financial and social status is a lost cause. People who have the money to go all-out want to flaunt it; and this sets the standard that others try to meet. And people who aren’t well-off are reluctant to admit they lack the money for the all-out party, so the shakedowns start.
It’s kind of sad in a way, because I believe that by returning to the true spiritual and cultural/kinship roots of these kinds of events, you can have a meaningful and memorable event without going into debt or having to shake down your family and friends for “sponsorships.” Things are what you make of them. It is possible to have a lovely, meaningful, memorable event of any kind without spending money you don’t have and strong-arming friends and relatives to contribute, but that takes effort and thoughtfulness and some soul-searching about what’s important.
It’s a good thing I’ve never gotten a money-grab invitation that blatant because, if I did, I’d probably be tempted to write something like this:
You’ve asked if I have any questions, and I do. If I choose not to sponsor your daughter’s quincera, does that mean I’m out of the family? Should I feel like I haven’t contributed to making this a grand celebration? Would you prefer if I just didn’t attend? This is new territory for me, so I thought I’d ask and make sure we understand each other correctly.
This is just tackey.
I got a FB round robing message from a university firend doing a sponsered event for a well known charity. 1) she asked if anyone wanted to participate with her 2) asking for donations. The way it was worded was polite and to the point, so I sent a private message to her and said if she gave me her address I will send her a donation. She immediatly sent me a chat message thanking me.
Charity is one thing but this takes the biscuit.
This is a tradition much as it is in my culture where when someone is getting married, the other women will quietly approach the mother-of-bride and ask her what she can bring/do/buy. But it’s all done quiet and humble and there is always someone (NOT MOB) who will go around and quietly inform people that MOB doesn’t yet have such-and-such or couldn’t get something because the funds aren’t there, and then people fall over their feet to rush to MOB and help her get it—all without her saying a word. We just make it a community event and so we know we are all responsible for making it come true–so I’m guessing the OP was speaking of the same sort of thing. But the difference is that in my culture we refuse to say a word about it, and if for whatever reason the funds aren’t forthcoming, than we say “that’s just how it’s suppose to be” and leave out whatever we could do not afford or get. If there was ever a breach in our way of doing this, say MOB actually began telling people what they were to do or get, MOB would absolutely be “shunned” -ignored. But you’ll never catch that happening.
I just wanted to comment on rule 3, because I promised my Grandma I wouldn’t tell anyone in the family. I’m a 30-something woman with a decent job and some savings, but a bunch of bills hit at one; car repair, front entry door needing replaced, washer breaking, and a college class I have to take for my job. I metionioned casually a couple weeks ago that I could cover it all, but it would drain most of my savings. I was sitting in the kitchen visiting with Grandma when Grandpa walks in and hands me $5000! They are not rich by any means – their view is that they might as well give me part of my inheritance now.
Exception to Rule #1: You are owed money if you worked as an employee or vendor and earned an agreed-upon wage or payment.
I just re-read this and realized that it said the event was “next Saturday”! The events that jgoodlan wrote of sound like a lovely way for “the village” to be bonded with a young woman, and it sounds like a lot of time and effort are put into it. Hitting up acquaintances for sponsorship via a mass facebook message, less than a week before the festivities smacks of “We didn’t get as much money as we wanted from our first choice sponsors, so we’re hitting up our B-list” to me. “So, not only are we asking for money, but we’re doing it as impersonally as possible, and in such a way that you’ll know you were an afterthought.” Do you feel “cherished” yet?
I agree with Hellbound Alleee. Labeling something as culturally acceptable or ‘tradition’ doesn’t make it any more acceptable or worthwhile. Cultures vary widely, but the emotion that motivates to action is universal.
My friend explained the cultural tradition to me – the girl’s family pays for the quincenera and the man and his family pay for the wedding. I thought that was a nice balance.
So, the quince take the place of the wedding, and the honoree really CAN say “This is MY day!” It bothers me when I hear things like “It’s the bride’s day,” or “it’s My day,” when it should be the COUPLE’S day.
Just putting that out there. Quincereas are viewed as just as important as, and often as elaborate as, a wedding.
Although I must admit the idea of a 15 year-old girl being available for courtship and marriage to be somewhat off-putting. I know it’s traditional, and no one expects the girl to actually marry at that age, nowadays. Perhaps, then, it’s time to change the tradition, and just stick with the religious aspect, of her being an adult in the eyes of the church, and the social aspect of her being introduced into adult society, so she can start building up relationships in society. 15 is a good age to start volunteering in society and building up personal social standing, as opposed to relying on the family for one’s social standing. It’s time to start networking on your own. But that doesn’t make you marriageable.
The FB message reads to me like the askers didn’t think their original sponsors ponied up enough money, and now they’re widening the circle and asking the next level. Like traditions in any society, I think a lot of the traditions have lost their true meaning and honor when they have been corrupted by people who don’t use proper etiquette or misinterpret the true point of the event.
What jgoodlan and wowwow write of sounds like a meaningful and honorable event; the wrong person merging this with a spoiled vision of “My Sweet 16” totally takes the wind out of its sails as a meaningful event.
actually jgoodlan makes a lot of good points – whilst it is normal to find padrinos for these events, i agree the etiquette is to do it in person in a formal way, at least where i am living in mexico (invite them for a meal sometimes, or at least travel to their house). That fb message does sound grabby!
My future mother in law explained about padrinos/madrinas for weddings – aras, rings, lazzo etc – and asked who we would choose.whilst all the weddings i have attended here in mexico have had them, the idea of asking people makes me cringe -just would never happen in Britain! – “lucky you! im choosing you to pay for something.woohoo!”
Okay, full disclosure: I’m a Chicana (second generation Mexican-American), and I lived in Mexico and Guatemala for a few years when I was a child, so I’m familiar with quinces. I had one myself, in fact. But you really have to distinguish between the quince as it’s practiced in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, and the quince as it’s celebrated in the United States.
In most of Latin America, a quince is a celebration of a young woman’s passage into adulthood and preparation for assumption of her life as a wife and mother. To be a bit crass, it’s a signal to society that a young woman is marriageable and ready to entertain offers of marriage. In the United States, a quince has come to mean anything from passage into adulthood, to big birthday party for a young lady with no greater significance than a chance to have a big blowout, to an opportunity to impress the neighbors with sheer extravagance.
Quinces have no religious significance in either the USA or Latin America, although many US Catholic dioceses with large Latino populations will offer a special blessing, a mass, or some sort of acknowledgement to quince girls. There’s no official rite in the Church for quinces, and some US dioceses have banned even the special blessings because they don’t want to lend legitimacy to what has become in many cases a massive display of conspicuous consumption.
My quince was pretty low-key. I had it with a couple of cousins (we all turned 15 within a month of each other), and it was an opportunity for a big family get-together. My nana and aunts made the food, a couple of my male cousins brought a stereo, speakers and CDs (yes, I’m old), and we had it in the basement of our church — not because we were attaching any religious significance to it, but because the parish offered a cut rate on rentals to parishioners. One of my uncles, who is a priest, gave us all a blessing, and then we all ate, drank and danced. I had a new dress and a little rhinestone tiara from Claire’s, and some of my relatives gave me small gifts. And that was it. No “first pair of heels,” no “last doll,” no chambelanes or damitas (chamberlains and ladies-in-waiting), no bouquets, no big hoo-hah, period. My father and two uncles paid for the whole thing, and there was little expense involved.
When I see what quinces have become, and what extravagant wastes of money they are, I want to scream. All of the so-called “tradition” that requires that a young woman have a giant, custom-made dress and a trip to a day spa for hair and nails, a limo, a “court” of attendants, etc., etc., all forcing her parents to either take out home equity loans, get “sponsors” for everything from the dress to the DJ, or go bankrupt, ARE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS — like, say, the past 15-20 years, which is about when conspicuous consumption became a contact sport in this country. Of course a modern-day quince needs a padrino and madrina — who else can the parents turn to for financial assistance?
I’m a college graduate — one of a very small number in my family — and I hold master’s degrees in education and history. I have a well-paid position in a large university system. I’m one of a handful of persons in my family with a profession, and one of a handful that’s clawed their way up and out to a comfortable middle-class existence. Consequently, I have an e-mail inbox full of solicitations from cousins, nephews, nieces, etc.: “Maribel/Veronica/Graciela/whoever is turning 15 soon! We want you to be a madrina! If you don’t have time, we understand — you can be a sponsor! Here’s a list of what you can sponsor!” I’ve been asked to sponsor a limo, a DJ, a dress, a VFW hall, a hotel stay, a hotel ballroom …
It’s ridiculous. I refuse all such requests outright. I don’t care if they come via e-mail, Facebook, phone call, or on parchment via owl. I will not fund someone else’s show of “wealth.” If you don’t have it, don’t flaunt it. Me giving it to you for an evening isn’t going to change your situation.
Thank you PDamian! That was very enlightening from someone who has been there and done that. And thanks to the other posters who have come from that culture and shed some light to the rest us who scratch our heads over this. I have a better understanding of the event, although I agree the way the Facebook invitation was issued was definitely not appropriate. Issued at the last moment screams “We ran out of money! We need yours!!”
The best statement: “All of the so-called “tradition” that requires that a young woman have a giant, custom-made dress and a trip to a day spa for hair and nails, a limo, a “court” of attendants, etc., etc., all forcing her parents to either take out home equity loans, get “sponsors” for everything from the dress to the DJ, or go bankrupt, ARE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS — like, say, the past 15-20 years, which is about when conspicuous consumption became a contact sport in this country.”
Unfortunately over-the-top materialism has seeped into every aspect of our lives these days, thanks to the despicable Kardashian-type reality shows (that most people claim they don’t watch, but still won’t go away!). What once was probably considered a sweet, traditional right-to-passage, seems to have gone the way of so many other traditions to be a contest of who can spend the most and put on the biggest show. Sad that so many parents buy into it.
This letter just screams gimme freebies (in a sickly sweet way) to me. It’s one thing to ask nicely for donations for something you or somebody needs but it’s another to ask for stuff because you feel you’re entitled to it.
From what jgoodlan said, it sounds to me like the true, traditional quinceanera has a mechanism set up for this stuff to happen in a courteous way (which is clearly NOT what happened with this FB post!)
So: if I understand correctly, being asked to be a padrino or madrina is a great honor. The word suggests (to my limited knowledge of Spanish) something parental–maybe a sense of being like a godparent one removed or something? Anyway, it’s an honor, like being asked to be a bridesmaid.
Now in the U.S. when a young woman is asked to be a bridesmaid she understands the responsibilities that traditionally go with the role, and that one of them includes shelling out for a dress of the bride’s choosing with a price tag of the bride’s choosing. The bride doesn’t ask her to pay for her dress–everyone already knows that’s part of it. (Once upon a time, foreign-raised me was the only one who didn’t, but that’s another story.) Similarly, a traditional person from Costa Rica or Mexico wouldn’t need to be informed that a madrina or padrino is going to give money toward a quince.
So I can see it being courteous to approach a close friend and say “Would you be a madrina for my daughter?” No more needs to be said. The madrina will then give some thought to what she wants to contribute and “push” that on her friend. And I don’t see how it can be rude to ask this: if it’s such an honor, might it not actually be rude to say, “Hey, I want to be a madrina for your daughter?” The reason I am thinking this way is that jgoodlan made it sound like the cultural role is the important thing–that no, madrina does not just translate to “sponsor”. Some cultural roles have both prestiage and demands attached–like being a bridesmaid or MOH or madrina/padrino or godparent–and if you don’t want the demands you can choose to forgo the prestige, make a polite excuse and say no.