In many parts of the US when a girl turns 16 years old her family throws her a big party called a "Sweet Sixteen." These celebrations are somewhat similar to debutante, quinceanera, or even a bat mitzvah in that they mark the transition from being a girl to being a woman. Traditionally, I suppose such celebrations present the young woman to the community as eligible for marriage although I am not entirely sure about the historical and cultural roots. Common to these celebrations are fancy dresses, participation of large groups of family and friends, and in my experience, lots of money spent on frivolous things.
When the first of the Sweet Sixteens were given for her friends, I asked my daughter Sophie if she wanted to have a party for her birthday. She looked at me as if I had six heads and simply said, "No, I want you to take me to Paris instead." I did a little mental math and very quickly decided the trip would be cheaper, much more fun and on the whole a far more rich cultural experience than a coming of age party for a kid who still wears cookie monster shirts.
Vous voir dans une semaine, je vais à Paris!