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A little girl photographed for First Communion in Italy, c. 1919.

The First Communion, or First Holy Communion, is a ceremony of mostly the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. It is the colloquial name for a person's first reception of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and in Roman Catholic churches occurs typically at age seven or eight depending on national custom. Catholics believe this event to be very important, as the Eucharist occupies a central role in Catholic theology and practise. Lutherans also traditionally observe First Communion.

First Communion is not celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East, as they practice infant communion (which often is simultaneously administered with paedobaptism and Confirmation). Some Anglicans allow infant communion (also called "paedocommunion"), while others require the previous reception of confirmation, usually during the teenage years.

Celebration of this religious ceremony is typically less elaborate in many Protestant churches. Roman Catholics and some Protestant denominations, including Lutherans and some Anglicans, believe Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, although not through transubstantiation for many non-Catholic groups. Other denominations have varying understandings, ranging from the Eucharist being a "symbolic" meal to a meal of "remembering" Christ's last supper.


A group photo of children from Holyrood School at their First Communion, Swindon, Wiltshire, England, in 1949.

The sacrament of First Communion is an important tradition for Catholic families and individuals. For Catholics, Holy Communion is the third of seven sacraments received; it occurs only after one's baptism and first confession (the Sacrament of Penance), the first two sacraments. This order of the sacraments is practiced universally by all Roman Catholics, whereas Byzantine Catholics (Eastern Rite), for example, celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation (Chrismation), and Holy Communion on the same day as an infant's baptism.

Traditions of celebration surrounding First Communion usually include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the event. The first communicant wears special clothing. The clothing is often white to symbolize purity, but not in all cultures. Girls often wear fancy dresses and a veil attached to a wreath of flowers or hair ornament. In other communities, girls commonly wear dresses passed down to them from sisters or mothers, or even simply their school uniforms plus the veil and/or wreath. Boys may wear a suit or tuxedo, or their Sunday best.

In many Latin American countries, boys wear military-style dress uniforms with gold braid aiguilettes. In Switzerland both boys and girls wear plain white robes with brown wooden crosses around their necks. In Germany, Luxembourg and Austria, girls are dressed up as, so to speak, little brides (though this has been partly replaced by albs in more recent times).

In Scotland, boys traditionally wear kilts and other traditional Scottish dress which accompany the kilt. In the Philippines, First Communion services often occur on or around the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (the country's patron saint), with boys donning either the Barong Tagalog or semi-formal Western dress, and girls a plain white dress and sometimes a veil.

Gifts of a religious nature are usually given, such as rosaries and prayer books, in addition to religious statues, icons, and holy cards. Monetary gifts are also common.[1]

Many families have formal professional photographs taken in addition to candid snapshots in order to commemorate the event. Some churches arrange for a professional photographer after the ceremony.

First Communion in Mexico City, Mexico. Boy's arm band and Girl's First Communicant dress is seen.


The social mission of First Communion is a rite of passage leading to confirmation[citation needed]. During the communist era, dominant societies initiation into the pioneer movement in communist countries that had large Catholic populations was an overt attempt to supplant the Catholic ritual (e.g., the Union of Pioneers of Yugoslavia). In all cases, a child at the age of seven to ten is initiated as a member of a group within which the individuals share certain values and culture.

Counterparts in other religions[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

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712 news items

Pittsburg Morning Sun
Sat, 23 Aug 2014 05:32:42 -0700

The First Communion dress created by Maggie Renn for her niece, Sayde, is one of the most highly honored garments in the state of Kansas. The Southeast High School senior recently received a silver medal in fashion construction for the dress at the ...
Aitkin Independent Age
Sun, 24 Aug 2014 02:56:15 -0700

From left, Sophie and Sydnee Morris, daughters of Don and Sarah Morris, Pastor Sandy Berg-Holte, Brady Millsop, son of Jeremy Millsop and Amy Howard and Blake Larson, son of Brock and Kari Larson. Minnestaliga Med-Rectangle 300x 250.

BBC News

BBC News
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:56:15 -0700

Old wedding pictures; women in fancy hats and fur tippets; a solemn girl in a frilled First Communion frock; old letters including a job offer with The Northern Whig newspaper; memory cards. Driving through a river A member of the photographic society ...
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:11:15 -0700

"We went to church as a kid and I did my first communion and was confirmed so I did all of that but we didn't pray before every meal or anything like that. Im a work-in-progress but yet if I'm in a fix I'll pray ... if I'm feeling uncomfortable about ...
KOAT Albuquerque
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:56:15 -0700

THE CHURCH HAS BEEN HAS PLAYED A KEY PART IN THE LIVES OF MANY CATHOLICS WHO LIVE AROUND CAMPUS. we were married here all my kids were baptized, made their first communion. two of my boys were confirmed BUT THE CHURCH ...
Victoria Advocate
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:30:00 -0700

We memorize the Commandments. We learn to sing, "Jesus loves me this I know" and to trust that he is our Savior from sin. And so we graduate. We take our first communion. We get confirmed. We get into high school and college and stop going to church.
Packet Online
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:37:30 -0700

The event might be casual, like a football party, where she orders sandwiches and Buffalo wings, or more formal, like her son's and daughter's First Communion parties. “The caterers come and set everything up, I just have to light the Sternos,” she said.
Milford Mirror
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:07:30 -0700

Church welcome — St. Gabriel's Church invites inactive adult Catholics and those who'd like to become Catholic via baptism, first communion or confirmation to a “Let's Talk” program on Aug. 26, 7-8 p.m. in the Church Hall, 26 Broadway. For more ...

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