Coming of Age: Bat Mitzvahs and Quinceañeras… A 13th and 15th Birthday

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The Bat Mitzvah. The coming of age ceremony in Judaism, when a girl turns thirteen and becomes an adult in the eyes of Judaism. One is responsible for understanding the meaning of the Torah and taking on the role of a Jewish woman. The counterpart, a Bar Mitzvah, a male turns thirteen and becomes an adult in the Jewish religion. Originally, there were only Bar Mitzvahs and in many Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox communities, Bat Mitzvahs do not play a role in the religion. A newer trend, the B’nai Mitzvot, a ceremony with two siblings of a similar age who have a ceremony together. I write about  the Bat Mitzvah because I am more familiar with the female experience.

It is a milestone day, usually occurring on the date and month of the Hebrew and or American calendar which corresponds to a girl’s birthday. Much preparation has gone into the day: years of Hebrew school, reading the Torah, singing, writing a meaningful speech and preparing for the celebration, afterwards. Bat Mitzvah, in Hebrew, means a female, bat, who does a good deed, a mitzvah. The Torah portion of the day is a significant piece of a revelation or philosophy about life according to the Jewish history, sometimes it falls out on a holiday, A female feels special on this day, she wears a dress  which fits the ceremony and party mood. The party can be a day event or a more glamorous dinner and evening party at a venue. Some are held in Israel. Today, many girls are seen wearing a sequin top with a long skirt and designer sneakers, easier for dancing. The party often has a theme such as; a color, music, the beach, sport, hobby or a symbolic connection to the person. The rooms are decorated with balloons, flowers, the girl’s name on screen, printed on pillows, in lights or party favors. A photographer or videographer captures the moment. There are picture montages from their childhood and entertainers. Each theme is unique and has relevance to the individual, a way to express and celebrate their birthday and entrance. My Bat Mitzvah theme; rainbows. I had white balloons which represent the clouds, rainbow arches near the tables and pots of gold, in wrapping paper. My invitation was blue, like the sky, with rainbow colored ribbons, sealed with a silver star. The symbolic meaning; to follow your dreams and see the multitude of colors in life. I wore a multi white and cream lace tier top and skirt which had a delicate style. My younger sister played the song a piano;”Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Many parties have a candle lighting ceremony where 12 or 13 people in the girl’s life, light a candle. The cake, music, toasts or tributes, play a role. Many go over the top with cartoonists, video games, face painters and DJ’s. People do the Hora dance and a girl is lifted up on top of a chair, as a means of celebration and elevation. One can watch Bat Mitzvah’s on YouTube and Vimeo, in order to get a better idea of what a day is like.

A Bat Mitzvah is similar to a Quiñceanera, a fifteenth birthday party or similar to a girl’s coming of age. The ceremony, originated with the Aztecs in Mexico and was preparation for marriage and motherhood. The Spanish came to Mexico and brought Catholicism. Other Latino/Meso- American cultures have quiñces as well. The girl has a religious ceremony at a Catholic church. There is a party or fiesta where a girl has a court of 7 damas ( ladies) and 7 chambelanes (male escorts for each dama), totaling 14 and the Quinceañera, makes the 15th. The father/daughter dance is a key feature and many have their last doll (muneca) which is dressed up and resembles the party girl. There is a shoe changing ritual where the father takes off her flat shoes, replacing them with high heels. The mother applies lipstick on her daughter to make her appear as a lady. She is now considered a woman and has established her heritage as an adult. The gown is elaborate and usually comes in bright colors or traditional white, similar to a debutante gown. It is made of ruffles with a tulle or organza bodice and has a tighter top in a matching shade with sparkles or floral appliqués. Gowns look like a Cinderella dress or similar Disney princess outfits, some girls wear a tiara. Compare a Quinceañera to a Bat Mitzvah because both cultures have similar traditions and parties which celebrate their cultural identity and role as a maturing female.. A coming of age party. So, Mazel Tov (Congratulations) or Felicitaciones.

 

 

 

 

Inside Asprey; Luxury by Royal Appointment

Photo by Samuel Wölfl on Pexels.com

“Inside Asprey: Luxury by Royal Appointment” is a docuseries which looks at London, England’s prominent 167 New Bond Street boutique designed by Lord Norman Foster. The setting is comprised of eight Georgian townhouses combining old world architecture and fashion. Asprey’s was founded by William Asprey in 1871 and, in the beginning, saw the patronage of Queen Victoria. Royals; Edward VII, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson and the majority of The Windsors have come here to shop. Sir Elton John and members of the House of Lords have frequented Asprey too, giving the house a long lineage. Yet, in current times, Hollywood and foreigners from the House of Saud and Qatar are frequent shoppers. Asprey received a Royal Warrant in 1886 from Queen Victoria and later, one from King Edward VII, Prince of Wales. Upon entering, one sees displays such as; a silver gorilla safe, a round champagne holder, silver decanters with antler heads and one of a kind crocodile bags encrusted with diamonds. Jewelry, handbags, home decor, embellished crystal and china seem straight out of Town and Country or Architectural Digest. Asprey was once a store which sold crowns and sceptres to the royal family. Watches by Asprey and Rolex are a main specialty as well as clocks. The store had a Regulator Clock in the window so the gentleman passing by could adjust their watches. The boutique recently recreated Queen Elizabeth’s diadem worn at her 1953 coronation, using 1000 white diamonds. Asprey’s goods have been a focus in movies such as; “Titanic”, “Match Point” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic”.

The documentary takes cameras, for the first time, on a store tour which is filled with an air of British aristocracy and finery, but it has modernity, with a black and white spiral staircase as a centerpiece. The viewer can see smiths who have spent their whole life creating jewelry, silverware and decorative merchandise for the discerning customer, private shopping sprees, events and shop talk from the manager, pr, sales and crafts people who know the secrets behind this prestigious shopping landmark. Outside, the picturesque street, its neighbors are; Louis Vuitton and Chanel. A Saudi princess, once the store has closed, buys 12 custom designed handbags, priced at 300,000 pounds and has them sent home by jet. Asprey is known for its alligator and lizard 1871 Pochette bags as well as the polo style bag. Polo sporting goods have been a staple of the store and are incorporated into fashion. A new shopper from Texas, clad in denim, comes in and buys unique silver owl salt and pepper shakers. Silver has been used for platters to sporting trophies. The marketing is discreet, yet, one gets an inside view as to what it takes to maintain the store’s caliber. Whether one is a long time shopper or a new visitor, each visit evokes an image of a future British socialite wearing an Asprey jewel collection, an elegantly dressed man going to Ascot or an estate in Yorkshire filled with their home decor. It takes effort to maintain the stores one of a kind inventory and exclusive upscale brand, much of the items are made on site. The jewelry, leather, silver and gold craft maker is shown cutting platinum and stringing blue and green gem stones for a necklace and earrings named “Chaos”, due to the free floating design. The Asprey diamond is known as the Asprey Cut which is handmade and flawless. They are the only company to have a letter A diamond above the crown symbol. Much of the jewelry is known for floral patterns, after English garden blossoms, designed as sunflowers and woodland flora. A rare fancy yellow diamond ring is brought out for show. There is a barrier between the have and have nots, old money and nouveau riche, but it is available to niche markets at the traditional Asprey. The intricate silverware, museum collection, gold gift boxes made with mercury are still part of the inventory, but a custom made haute couture ring, retailing at 4.6 million pounds, is a current seller. One can buy a less costly piece of heritage with a purchase of Purple Water Perfume, Purple Cream or Purple Bath Gel. Asprey uses purple as a signature color for branding and is recognized for their purple flag logo, the color symbolizes royalty. Asprey stores in: NYC on Madison Avenue, Beverly Hills in the Beverly Hills Hotel, South Beach, Miami in The Setai Hotel, Zurich, St. Moritz, Osaka in Takashimaya and Tokyo in The Ritz Carlton, grace the brand’s symbolic purple lettering and finery, but the English boutique is the original. The store can be reminiscent of scenes from Downton Abbey, Ralph Lauren’s take on the British or a twist on contemporary London shopping, but standards and old world traditions are upheld.