Originally this tradition was a small, simple affair that reflected the status of the girl being honored. It gave the girls the chance to meet with local men who were looking for a wife. Rich families would often publish the affair in newspapers as well sending out invitations to various other families whom also had eligible sons. The parties would be planned out many months in advance so that travel plans could be arranged and everything could be presented perfectly.
Modern Quinceañeras can cost upwards of 20,000 dollars, the same amount of money that it would cost for a wedding. A family with many girls can find themselves in debt for many years. Because of this, the Quinceañera is now often funded by the extended family and even the community.
The first noted quinceañeras documented in the United States happened in the latter part of the 20th century in Texas. However, this celebration has been around since 500 a.d in various forms in Mesoamerica. Spanish-Aztec women were known to celebrate in a similar fashion shortly after the Spanish Conquests. Historical documents have made reference to the daughters of Aztec nobility being offered to Spanish aristocracy by means of this festival.
Recent traditions include setting up websites and social media accounts to advertise the status and wealth of the girl and her families to all her friends. Occasionally, local news will air segments on the events, if the girl’s family is powerful enough. It’s not uncommon to see write ups in the society and gossip pages of magazines and newspapers as well, as the celebration becomes more mainstream.