A Very Sweet Sixteen

Similar to other coming-of-age events for girls, like a quinceañera or bat mitzvah, a sweet sixteen is important to many girls in the United States and Canada.


Tracy Rao

Bella Rao’s sweet sixteen.

Bella Rao, Columnist

In many North American cultures, turning 16 is a big part of a young girl’s life. Usually, a party is thrown, which can range from a small house party with family only, to huge events with a DJ and expensive gowns. The main purpose of the party is to celebrate the person who is entering a new stage in their life.

According to eHow, sweet sixteens originated in the Victorian Era. They celebrated young girls becoming marriageable adults. Nowadays, some of the primary events at a girl’s sweet sixteen are the father-daughter dance, candle ceremony, and the special gifts they receive from friends and family. 

Canadians and U.S. Northeasterners are dedicated to having a successful sweet 16 that will be a memorable experience. Both of my parents are from New York, and families from the East Coast spend thousands of dollars on perfecting the party. Because of this, at my sweet 16, I had around 70 people, which is still small compared to other celebrations. I had a DJ, photographer, and father-daughter dance, but no expensive gown or candle ceremony. The candle ceremony, a less-known tradition, consists of 16 candles that are gradually lit as 16 members of the birthday girl’s family speak about her. I personally chose to pass on the candle ceremony in order to focus on dancing and being with my friends. However, it is still a common across the country, according to eHow

Sweet sixteens are an important rite of passage in a girl’s life and are the beginning of young adulthood. Not only does turning 16 reward you with new privileges, like driving, but turning 16 signifies that you are maturing and beginning adulthood. Many girls consider it one of the most important birthdays of their lives. It has been a staple of U.S. culture and will continue to be celebrated around North America.