Talk:Sweet sixteen (birthday)

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Vandalism revert[edit]

The second vandalism revert was, in fact, me. Tom Lillis 03:34, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

My edits[edit]

I rewrote the intro section to make the tone more suitable for Wikipedia. Because of this, I removed the "improve tone" tag. I also organized the page, including the "Pop Culture" section. I added a references section. If you have any problem with my edits, feel free to tweak what you like. More info and references are needed, so feel free to add them, just make sure the tone remains formal and the information is relevant to the page. Sherlock (talk) 20:45, 16 May 2008 (UTC)


The MTV section needs a rewrite; it's obviously written by someone who hates the show, the concept, and the channel.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I don't actually understand why this article covers the show at all. It has its own article we should point to instead. -- Siobhan Hansa 12:51, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

How I see it[edit]

The uses of "sweet sixteen" in the article don't seem common here in the UK, though the phrase itself is well-heard-of. It's always sounded to me like an emphasis of the person's youthfulness. Is it used this way to any notable extent anywhere? -- Smjg 16:34, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm in the US, and -- although I've never been a sixteen-year-old girl -- most of the "traditions" listed here are completely unfamiliar to me or anyone I've talked to. Video montages and a DJ? I'm thinking that this article represents either (a) extremely recent, consumer/marketing-driven changes (a number of which appear to have been taken from wedding "traditions" that have only appeared in the last decade...or (b) the dreams of wedding planners and photographers to expand their markets ;) (I kid, but, can anyone cite any of this stuff beyond the MTV show? I'm with Smjg in thinking that "Sweet Sixteen" was largely a phrase, a concept, and perhaps an extra-special birthday party -- in the UK, 16 is when you can begin to go to the pub, no? And in the US, 16 is when you can, nominally, get your driver's license -- which I believe may play into this. The candle symbolism thing is particularly perplexing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:43, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

No, the origin is because 16 is the 'age of consent' for girls in the UK - the age at which a girl can Legally consent to have sex for the first time. There was no age of consent for boys (though this may have changed, not sure) so boys were never 'sweet sixteen' or had parties to celebrate this rite of passage.Jelila22 (talk) 14:51, 24 April 2015 (UTC)Jelila22
That used to be the case, but the age of consent in the the UK is now 16 for everyone, except for it being illegal for an adult in a position oof authority to have sex with someone under 18 who (s)he's in a position of power over. Jim Michael (talk) 11:33, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

The origins of the phrase, please[edit]

I would really like to know where and how - and, most importantly, WHEN - the expression itself originated. It's an essential piece of information, and it's missing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:45, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

I strongly second this! Luminifer (talk) 21:40, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
I can't source this, so it's not going in the article, nor am I equipped to conduct the research but my understanding is that this coming-of-age ritual acknowledges womanhood in the sense of a girl attaining marriagable age. "Sweet sixteen and never been kissed" is the colloquial description of eligible virginity from which this phrase is derived. From the particular useage of "been", I would presume but cannot substantiate an origin in the rural/southern United States in the 19th Century. (talk) 04:18, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the phrase "sweet sixteen" was first recorded 1826. (Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 06 Apr. 2009. Richard Crawford, in his book America's Musical Life, claims that the phrase became popular in America due to the song "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" (1898) by James Thornton, which was among the most popular songs of the 1890s in the U.S. and sold over a million copies. The phrase remains common to this day, although the song is no longer widely known. dissolvetalk 05:30, 7 April 2009 (UTC)


This article needs quite a bit of tidying up, but in order to do so, some questions need to be answered:

  • Is it a sweet sixteen or a Sweet Sixteen? The page title and first sentence of content indicate the former, but almost the entire rest of the article uses the capitalised form.
  • "A sweet sixteen party is a type of birthday party in the United States, usually celebrated for a girl on her sixteenth birthday." Which unusual cases ever occur in practice - those where it's a boy, those held a few days either side of the birthday or those that celebrate reaching a different age?
  • More generally, what corresponding celebrations/traditions are there for boys, both in the US and in other cultures?

-- Smjg (talk) 01:03, 30 September 2008 (UTC) Boys do not usually have 'sweet sixteen' parties because, in the UK, there is no 'age of consent' for boys. So there has traditionally not been a milestone for them reaching the 'age of consent' as they did not have one. The age of consent is when a minor or young person, may legally agree to have sex for the first time. This only existed for girls, hence, only girls are 'sweet sixteen' and have parties to celebrate it. Jelila22 (talk) 14:48, 24 April 2015 (UTC)Jelila22


Similarly to what the poster two (one?) up said, my question is, what exactly fueled this trend? I always wondered, what was so special about being sixteen years old? It's not a lucky number, and you're right at the peak of high school, so I really don't understand. My relatives have also tossed in, "Yeah, feels just like any other year. I suppose it's an American thing." I always thought it was because you were right in high school and two years before college, legality (normally/generally, anyway), but now I am not so sure. I know the lead right off the bat states they were originally to celebrate a girl's virginity, but why wait a particular sixteen years for this milestone event? Why not fifteen or seventeen, maybe even a few more years? I mean, I might not see it, because I'm a full Chinese female born to Chinese parents who actually came from Asia (ex. to further illustrate my point, speak the languages fluently and practice traditions). If references could be provided, that'd be great. Dasani 04:52, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Probably because when a kid turns 16 years old, she is eligible for her licence to drive.

What I'm curious is why it seems there is not a similar celebration for a boy who turns 16 years old?--Splashen (talk) 14:31, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Sixteen is the 'age of consent' in the UK, for girls, meaning, the LEGAL age at which a girl can choose to first have sex. There is legally no 'age of consent' for boys. 'Sweet sixteen' describes the state of 'ripeness for sex' but usually, not having had sex yet - still being a virgin. It is 'sweet sixteen', not 'a sweet sixteen'. 'Sweet sixteen and never been kissed' is a kind of wistful statement, describing a girl that is a virgin, is sexually ripe yet has not yet had sex. In the UK it is traditional to have a 'sweet sixteen' birthday party to celebrate this milestone. This is a celebration of a girl heading into being a woman. It is not overtly sexual - it is indeed 'sweet' - quite an innocent event, in itself. I hope this helps! Jelila22 (talk) 14:45, 24 April 2015 (UTC)Jelila22

Providing sources[edit]

How does Wikipedia approve of sources? I tried to provide a link to verify an addition I made to this article (boys' 16'Th party), but, they refused on the grounds that it was spamming.--Splashen (talk) 03:23, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

"SWEET" Sixteen?[edit]

I am curious about why the sixteenth birthday is called a "SWEET" sixteen?? Is it just because it sounds good with another 'S' in the 'Sixteen'? Or is there actually any particular origin to this so commonly used phrase? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:31, 1 July 2011 (UTC) I think it is purely because of the Irish song 'When you were sweet sixteen' that was popular in 1900. In the song, the singer is looking back from later in his life, to a time when his love was 'sweet sixteen' and saying he loves her just as much as when he 'first saw her, on the village green'. Then he remembers standing beside her getting married 'when you were sweet sixteen'. Sixteen is the time when a girl can consent to first have sex legally in the UK, and also, is when a girl is able to get married (though I think marriage must be consented to also by the parents, until the age of 18, in the UK). It is a beautiful song, the lyrics are very poignant. Worth listening to! here are the lyrics:

When[G] first I saw the love light in your[C] eyes,,[Am I[D] thought the world held nought but joy for[G] me And[G] even though we[Em] drifted far a[C]part I[A] never dream but what I dream of[D] you [Chorus] IG] love you as I never loved be[C]fore Since[D] first I saw you on the village[G] green Come[G] to me e'er my dreams of love is[C] o're,,[Am] I[C] love you as I[G] loved you,when you were[D] sweet When you were[Am] sweet six[G]teen

Last night I dreamed I held you in my arms And once again you were my happy bride I kissed you as I did on 'Auld Lang Syne', As to the church we wandered side by side

Sweet Sixteen In The Key Of C Major

When[C] first I [CMaj7]saw the[Am] love light in your[F] eyes I[G] thought the world held[G7] nought but joy for[C] me...[G7] And[C] even thou[CMaj7]gh we[Am] drifted [Am7]far a[F]part...[Dm] I[D] never dream but [D7]what I dream of[G] you...[G7] [Chorus] I[C] love you as I [Am]never loved be[F]fore...[Dm] Since[G] first I saw you on the village[C] green....[G7] Come[C] to me[CMaj7] 'ere my [Am]dreams of love is[F] o're...[Dm] I[D] love you as I[C] loved [CMaj7]you, [Am7]when you were[Em] sweet When you were[Dm] sweet[G7] six[C]teen

here is the link to the song on wikipedia: Jelila22 (talk) 15:02, 24 April 2015 (UTC)Jelila22

I think it's regional, no?[edit]

I've never heard of anyone outside of NJ/NY having a "sweet sixteen" party. (I'm originally from MA, but currently live in Eastern PA).

I've just been discussing it with a friend from Long Island, NY, and he suggested that it might be the (gentile) analog to Bar/Bat Mitzvah events, and therefore only "normal" in areas with large Jewish populations.

.. mostly unfounded, but a theory.

Propose this article be deleted[edit]

I propose that this article be deleted until we can have a better description written. Sweet Sixteen is more of a trend than a cultural component that is fueled by pop culture notoriety. At one point in the article, the writer states that this is an American phenomena, yet he/she uses the shoe ceremonies performed during Quinceañera as proof for general Sweet Sixteen birthdays. The flow of the article and its contradictions leads us to question as to whether this entire entry needs to be rewritten.shiznaw (talk) 16:59, 12 October 2011 (UTC)Shiznaw

Boys' coming of age birthdays?[edit]

Is there a particular ceremony and/or party for boys too? If so, what is it, & what's it called?--Splashen (talk) 05:14, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

So yeah, I have the same question. I have a son turning 16 and I don't care for the idea of this celebration. Did you get anywhere? (talk) 22:23, 8 May 2017 (UTC)


The present statement is a very facile parallel with Confirmation. If anyone has a suitable source to support that it fulfils a coming-of-age role, please cite. Thanks. Mark Hamid 00:05, 13 July 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mark.hamid (talkcontribs)