Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday—Roses for summer (18 of them for Filipino birthday girls...)

Happy Summer to you!

This old postcard, printed in Switzerland, was one saved by my Finnish grandmother. I have heard that she had a green thumb growing vegetables, but do not know if she maintained a flower garden. When I saw this card I thought it was the right one to celebrate the coming of summer. I am also posting it as a reminder-to-self to get out to my own roses and fertilize them. They look pitiful so far this year so I have a challenge bringing them back to health. I don't know why I have not maintained them for the last couple of summers. You'd think I do not care about them, which couldn't be farther from the truth. I love them. But I sure haven't honored them as they deserve to be honored...thus, this postcard pledge to take care of them this summer.

I wondered about rose songs. A search brought up a world unknown to me, that of the debut of young women in the Philippines when they reach age 18. Evidently, there is an entire "18's" culture determining the ways to celebrate a girl's debut .....and it started with the tradition of "18 Roses," which are not really roses at all.... But before that part is explained, here is a brief description of the debut itself from a longer article you can read in full at Debut Ideas--Your debut party idea bank:
History and Etymology:

The Philippine Debut is actually a tradition that spans back from the Spanish era. It is reminiscent of the “Quinceanera” celebration of the Spaniards, which a young lady celebrates at the age of fifteen (15). The age in which this event is celebrated is the only known difference between the Spanish and the Filipino tradition.

The term Debutante is from the French word “Deb” for “female beginner”. The deb is a young lady who comes from the aristocratic class who is formally presented and introduced to the society as soon as she reaches the age of maturity.

The reason why a woman gets presented is to tell the entire court of her eligibility for marriage as well as to display her to bachelors from the upper crust. This event is called “The Debutante’s Ball”.

Although debuts in the Philippines are not exactly based on such purposes, they have become widely celebrated and so popular a tradition they are that they get tweaked according to modern customs. Debuts are also a great way for teenagers to make memories and celebrate the adolescent phase of their lives.

So how do roses, 18 roses that are not really roses, come into play in the traditional Filipino debut celebration? More from Debut Ideas (linked above)....
The tradition of having the “18s” has been a must for debut parties for years.

It has been customary to have these 18s because it is a way of acknowledging the importance of the people in a debutante’s life.

Being part of the 18s is an honor because it means that the debutante feels that those people have contributed so much in her life. She feels that they have been part of what she is now and what she would become in the future and she would want to show that appreciation by giving credit where it is due.

The original 18s are 18 roses and 18 candles. As years passed, there came the addition of 18 treasures. The 18 roses symbolizes the 18 men in your life who has made an impact in your life. They may be a family member like an uncle perhaps, your godfather, brother or cousin. The 18 roses are also given to guys close to you, close friend, friend or classmate. 18 roses are usually done with the following ways: Your 18s will wait in line for a dance with you or they may also circle you and go toward the center when it is their time to dance. You may also have a different song for every rose or have just one song.

The 18 candles symbolizes the women in your life who are close to you and who you look up to as a role model in your life, those ladies who have been there for you. It may be or a family member, sister, aunt, godmother or cousin or your BFF. It may also be your teacher, a new acquaintance, a new friend, a classmate. The 18 candles are usually called to the stage, light the candle, make a speech and then put the lighted candle on a candle stand near the cake.

The 18 treasures are also 18 gifts, the purpose of which is to symbolize gift giving during a birthday so the 18 treasures are given to well-wishers. The 18 treasures can be for male and females but they are more for people who are older. The criteria is that they should be able to give you something. It may not always be money but since they are already stable, have work, giving you a gift or cash is just a second thing. They are older and wiser so they may give you advise on your journey toward adulthood. They may not know everything but they know something and they will just be happy to share them with you. Remember what they will advise you because that is what is really valuable and that will be your treasure. Usually 18 treasures are also called to the stage to give a speech, give the gift and then make a toast in honor of the debutante.

I read a short piece with a variation on the 18 roses, in that the group was composed of nine men and nine women who have been important in the young woman's life. I guess in that case the 18 candles would be "extinguished"? 
From what I can tell, debutante balls in other countries do not include the 18's tradition. WiseGeek contains the following information that shows how the traditions in other countries vary from the debut of 18-year-old girls in the Philippines and the Quinceanera celebrated in honor of 15-year-old Hispanic girls:
A debutante ball is an event where a young female, or in some cultures, a young male, is formally introduced into society. In many societies, a debutante ball is associated with wealthy and socially-influential families. The United States, England, Ireland and Australia all have variations of the debutante ball.

In Australia, a debutante ball is often part of the high school system. The Australian debutante ball is usually optional and only for those students, both male and female, who wish to take part. Both males and females are included because the ball symbolizes the debut of the soon to graduate high school student into the young adult world. Traditionally, the girl asks the boy to the debutante ball and dinner and speeches and ballroom dancing are all features of the evening.

In Ireland, debutante balls are often quite similar to high school proms in the United States. The debutante ball is a school function and students either go with formal dates or with an informal group of friends. It is customary for either a boy to ask s girl to the ball or a girl to ask a boy. Students often travel by limousine for the occasion. Ballroom dancing is often available, but is traditionally not considered a mandatory activity at an Irish debutante ball.

In England, the history of the debutante ball centers around ceremonies that involved the debutante having to wear certain clothing such as a feather head dress. Traditionally, English debutantes were introduced by former debutantes, often the mothers if they had had a coming out, or else a mother-in-law introducing her son's new wife. Quite often though, a debutante was a young woman ready to look for a husband. Queen Elizabeth II sanctioned court ceremonies for debutantes and began the English practice of more social introductions in the form of a debutante ball.

In the United States, a debutante ball is also sometimes called a cotillion. American debutante balls may be quite elite and formal with a receiving line of debutantes all in white gowns who are introduced in turn on stage by their fathers. The debutante also often has a date at the ball or sometimes more than one male date. The males may also be dressed all in white or in a military uniform. Charity donations may be a part of the American debutante ball.  

Will close this post with two videos that I think you will enjoy. The first just totally enchanted me, and the second was a delight. I'm so glad that I pulled this particular old postcard from the box this week, as I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the 18 roses tradition and the ways the tradition is evolving with the times.

Caption: The All-traditional Father and Daughter Dance.

Caption: I'm not a traditional person, so my debut really had to reflect that. Here's what I did for my 18 Roses



Fireblossom said...

Debutantes! I didn't get to debut, being locked in the attic as I was. ;-)

Lydia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lydia said...

I didn't debut either, Fireblossom. Maybe we tanted instead?

rosaria williams said...

Fascinating! Are these balls still in vogue?

Lydia said...

rosaria~ Yes, these are current videos. :)

Fireblossom said...

Isn't that a song? Tanted Love? :-P

Rob-bear said...

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

"To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"
~ Robert Herrick

Lydia said...

Fireblossom~ That song would be tainted love, dear (although I didn't know that until I Googled it). Certainly, there must be a huge difference between being tanted, as we possibly were, and being tainted. :)

Rob-bear~ Perfection!

Amber Lee said...

Joe and I just got back from my grandparents' house in No. California, and they have magnificent roses. That's where my mind always goes when the flower is mentioned...

I like that tradition of 18 roses! What a sweet way to be introduced as an adult (or something like it, at least!)

Lydia said...

Amber Lee~ I'm so glad you had a getaway after working so hard in school. You deserved a break....and lots of roses.
I like that tradition, too. Sweet is the right word for it.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

there is a theory that for every choice we ever make there springs into reality another universe where the alternate choice is played out

However, it's hard to imagine a reality in which i, or anyone i grew up with, would have had a Debutante's ball or a Prom

Of course, back then, the UK didn't have school proms - but i can't imagine anything worse than a bunch of socially inadequate 16 year olds (you could leave school at 16 then) hanging around the school hall drinking lemonade and looking vaguely embarrassed as ABBA played over the tannoy (I chose ABBA cos it doesnt date me too much - stoneage man was probably listening to ABBA in much the same way that the people of 2500 AD will still be listening to them)

For a report on how i DID spend my final day at school you may want to check out the post that i'm writing today - so i owe you a big THANK YOU for giving me inspiration via this OPW

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Hah! Guess what? I actually found your post before this comment! Your essay is wonderful, actually choked me up a bit with emotion. Thank you for writing it.

I like that theory about the alternate universe absorbing the alternate choice. Makes sense to me, and possibly to anyone else who ever like ABBA!

susan said...

I loved the video of the father and daughter dancing - they were just wonderful. I'm not sure whether I debuted or not but I do recall my parents hosting a very nice 18th birthday party for me.

Ah Lydia, there are many surprisingly lovely flowers in Halifax but the roses are poor scrawny things compared to those in Portland. Please give yours a little extra love from me.

Lydia said...

susan~ That is special that your parents hosted an 18th birthday party for you. Must be a splendid memory! Also, I promise to give my roses some extra love from you. The rain beat us to it the last few days, however. What a lot of it came down today!



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