There are a number of different paths that allow young men and women to become recognized as adults. Confirmation in the Catholic Church is one step that many Zapotec men and women take in moving toward adulthood. Increasingly Zapotec girls are organizing quinceaneras, an age-based ritual for girls that is a kind of "coming out" for them as young women, eligible for marriage. While this ritual involves attending mass and dressing the young woman in a dress that resembles a bridal gown, the ritual also has secular elements that in some ways parallel non-Zapotec elements included in weddings that are common throughout Mexico—a large cake, a feast, dancing, and presents. There is no parallel ritual for young men.
The marking of social adulthood occurs most generally when men and women have children. Getting engaged and married (as described below) is one of the paths that produces children, but women and men who are not married and have children can also achieve social adulthood, although they may have less respect in their communities.
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