Mexico and other Latin American countries celebrate a girl’s fifteenth birthday. Quinceañera is a tradition dating back hundreds of years. It is a rite of passage from childhood into young womanhood. Depending on the family she may be allowed to wear make-up, date, or other freedoms that come with turning this age. Families save for years to throw an epic birthday party that often looks more like a wedding in terms of extravagance. The birthday girl is often seen wearing a stunning gown, pearl and diamond jewelry, and of course her own tiara. One 15-year-old however got the biggest quinceañera ever when over one million people RSVP’d to her party.Her father Crescensio posted a video on Facebook inviting friends and family to celebrate the big day. What he didn’t know, however, is that he posted the video in public rather than private setting. Unintentionally, the video went viral with millions of people from all over Mexico and the United states watching it.
“Hello, how are you? We invite you this 26 December to the 15th birthday party of our daughter, Rubi Ibarra Garcia,” Crescencio announced. “hereby everyone is cordially invited.” When he said “everyone” he meant those from his village. Nonetheless, the family received over 1.2 million RSVPs, and the hashtag #XVdeRuby began trending on social media.
Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal, made a parody of the invitation video while singer Luis Antonio Lopez “El Mimoso” composed a song dedicated to the birthday girl.
Although the over one million RSVPs did not attend the birthday, it is estimated over 20,000 people showed up. Part of the itinerary included a mass with the priest blessing Rubi and advising her to remain humble despite all the attention.
The Garcias posted a message on their Facebook page, persuading people to remain calm and behave in a civilized manner. They wrote, “To all those who have already arrived I ask you to please do not despair because in truth we are many people and we are just seeing how to speed things up. I just ask for your patience so that we can all enjoy this party.”
Bodyguards had to be hired for the 15-year-old to safely reach the mass being held for her in the fields of San Luis Potosi. There was a large billboard saying, “Welcome to my 15th birthday party.”
While taking part in a traditional horse race, one of the riders lost balance and was trampled to death by his own horse. Another woman was injured at the event, but in the midst of these events, the party kept going on.
“What happened with Rubi is an interesting example of how the internet amplifies and makes hyper-transparent people’s personal lives and how traditional media look for stories on social networks to bring in new audiences,” says Sergio Contreras, a communications academic La Salle-Bajio University in Mexico.