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Sweet Sixteens

A sweet sixteen party is a type of birthday party in the United States celebrating a sixteenth birthday of a girl.  Sweet Sixteen parties mark a coming of age.  It is one of the most important days of a young girls life.

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For this tradition, the girl will have sixteen or seventeen candles on her cake. The very first candle is lit by her parents, and the second by her siblings or grandparents. The next four are then lit by additional family members. Number seven through fourteen are for important friends to light, and number fifteen is for her best friend. Lastly, the sixteenth candle is for an important boy in her life, and the optional seventeenth candle is for her to light for good luck or in the memory of a loved one.


This speech is typically given by the father before the the gifts are opened. The speech focuses on the joy the daughter has given her father over the years, and how proud of her he is. It can also center on his wishes for her as she embarks into adulthood.


The shoe ceremony is common at sweet sixteen parties, although they are more often seen in Quincea├▒eras. In this ceremony, the birthday girl sits down in a chair while her grandfather, uncle, godfather, or father approaches her with high heels on a decorative pillow. The girl would traditionally be wearing flat shoes, such as slippers, and the father ceremoniously helps her into her new high heels. This is symbolic of the girl transitioning into a woman.


This ceremony is similar to the shoe ceremony, except the mother approaches with a tiara instead of shoes. She places it on her daughters 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.


The father-daughter dance is a tradition that is also frequently performed at weddings. The girl and her father dance to a slow song of choice while everyone sits and watches. After the dance, the father then hands her over to her friends for a group dance and leaves the dance floor.

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