When you turn 16 as a female in the United States or elsewhere in the world, you can enjoy what is called a Sweet 16. This type of party can be formal, semi-formal, or casual depending on the family. Sometimes the sweet 16 celebrations are modest parties which consist of close friends and family while other times the sweet 16 birthday celebrations are large parties with hair stylists, make-up artists, hotel ballrooms, and hired DJ’s and photographers.
Many of the more fashionable and large affairs are even televised. There are a few traditions associated with Sweet 16 birthday celebrations. For many families and young adults, the sweet 16 is a special event. If your sweet 16 birthday celebrations feature a candle-lighting ceremony, then on the birthday cake there are often sixteen candles, each of which has a different meaning. The first candle in this instance is meant for the parents. The second is meant for any siblings, but if there are none then it represents the grandparents. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth candle are indicative of the remaining family members. The seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth are for friends. The fifteenth candle is for the best friend and the last candle, the sixteenth, is meant for a boyfriend or significant other. Some traditions place a seventeenth candle for good luck.
One of the other sweet 16 birthday celebrations is the show ceremony. This is when the birthday girl sits in a chair and her father, godfather, grandfather, or uncle approaches her holding a pair of heels on a decorative, celebratory pillow. Until this point, the girl traditionally wore slippers or other flat shoes and as her father ceremoniously places her feet in high heels it is a symbol of her transition into womanhood.
Another of the sweet 16 birthday celebrations is the tiara ceremony. For women this is much the same as show ceremony only, in lieu of the father and a pair of high heels, the mother approaches the daughter with a tiara which is placed upon her head as a symbol of her becoming a woman. There are times when the tiara ceremony is combined with the shoe ceremony and the girl sits in the same chair while both people approach her with two different pillows.
One other tradition in sweet 16 birthday celebrations is the father-daughter dance. The same as that which is performed at a wedding, this dance is often to a traditional song or slow jazz song and it the first song played during the night. Those in attendance sit and watch as the girl dances with her father.
Some families like to hire a professional DJ and videographer to display a montage on several televisions or on a projector throughout the night. The photos or video clips are often a combination of those taken over the years as the birthday girl grew up until present. Sometimes the photos are provided by the family to the DJ or videography. Guests can sit and enjoy the montage or it can be playing in the background during the party.