Sweet sixteen (birthday)

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A sweet sixteen is a coming of age party celebrating a girl's sixteenth birthday in North America, primarily in the United States and Canada. The term "sweet" is indicative of the innocence and virginity of the girl before she becomes a woman.

Types of sweet sixteen party[edit]

Sweet sixteens may be extremely formal, casual, or semi-formal; they can range from modest parties at home with close family and friends to large affairs with a hired DJ, makeup and hair stylists, yachts and hotel ballrooms.


Tiara ceremony[edit]

This ceremony is similar to the shoe ceremony, except the mother approaches with a tiara instead of shoes, and she does it instead of a community elder. She places it on her daughter's head to symbolize her becoming a woman. Sometimes this is combined with the shoe ceremony, so that two people approach the birthday girl, one with a pillow with high heels, and the other with a pillow with a tiara. But if the celebration is informal then there is no tiara ceremony.

Counterparts in other cultures[edit]

Latin American cultures[edit]

Many Latin American cultures celebrate a girl's fifteenth birthday with a fiesta de quince. In Brazil, these events are called Baile de debutantes (as well as in other Latin American countries).


In many Christian denominations, both girls and boys reach the age spiritual maturity at around the age of 13 or 14, with the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Jewish culture[edit]

In Conservative and Orthodox Judaism, girls reach the age of spiritual maturity at the age of 12, celebrated with a bat mitzvah, and for boys at the age of 13, with a bar mitzvah. In Reform Judaism both boys and girls have a ceremony when they are 13 years old. These are important dates in the Jewish culture, because following these ceremonies, bar or bat mitzvah, the young person is considered an young adult.

Asian culture[edit]


When young Filipino girls turn 18 they have a Début. There are 18 roses given by 18 male friends; the father has the last rose/dance.


At the age of 15, young Chinese women have a ceremony called Ji Li. Men have a ceremony called Guan Li at the age of 20.

South India (Tamil culture) (Tamil Nadu)

When a girl reaches her first period, she receives a turmeric water bath called mangal neerattu vizha from aunts, is dressed up as a bride, and celebrated with a ceremony. This happens mostly in her teens.

See also[edit]