“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” –E.E. Cummings
In the Philippines, a debut is not only a social event that a girl looks forward to celebrating all of her teenage life. Rather it is a girl’s symbolic transition from being a naïve lass to a woman. It has been said that this traditional practice has been around for years and has been meant to be celebrated to prepare the woman for the world of womanhood. In the age of social media and going viral, how this eighteenth “coming out” birthday party is celebrated will be starkly different to how it was celebrated decades ago. However, while there may be significant differences in how debut parties are celebrated now and then, there are still distinct aspects and notes that are present regardless of how a debut party will be thrown such as the cotillion dance and the customary eighteen roses dance.
If you are planning to celebrate your debut anytime soon, here are some of the facts about this coming of age celebration that you might want to know:
1.) It has been a tradition.
In the Philippines, girls are known to dream of their eighteenth birthday as it has been a long- held celebration observed by most Filipinos dating way back to aristocratic times. Today, some young women may choose to celebrate it differently but regardless of how they decide to greet their eighteenth birthday, turning eighteen is a big deal for them.
2.) It calls for a celebration.
Western countries are known to celebrate their sixteenth birthdays with a bang. Filipinos treat the eighteenth birthday of their daughters in the same regard. Depending on how the daughter wishes to throw a party and how much the parents would be willing to spend, eighteenth birthdays are usually elaborate events—second only to wedding celebrations.
3.) It is a big deal.
Turning eighteen is a big deal for most Filipino women and for this reason, they would wish to throw an elaborate party. In fact, some would regard debut parties in the same regard as wedding and baptismal celebrations. Although it is primarily up to the parents whether or not to give their daughters a debut party, a celebration of some sort is expected. With this in mind, some parents would throw an incredibly big bash for their daughters and would even prepare as early as nine months before the expected date.
4.) It is for women.
Debut parties are primarily geared towards women. It is a girl thing and is an occasion meant to be celebrated by women. However, this is not to say that boys do not have their own celebrations as well. As men are said to mature much later than women, they are to celebrate their debut or coming of age party when they turn 21. However, their celebrations are not as elaborate as a woman’s. More often than not, they would spend the night with friends in a bar and simply celebrate their adulthood.
5.) Social status is not an issue.
Back in the day, throwing a debut party was exclusively held by the members of the elite and upper class. It was said that they conducted these social events to keep up with current trends within their social circle. Furthermore, big parties and social gatherings such as debut parties were said to bolster their reputation within the community. In this regard, it can be said that debut parties were thrown for two reasons. However, as archaic and obsolete societal norms no longer constrain us, anyone can have a debut should they so wish.