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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.

Traditions[edit]

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 and Luxembourg, both boys and girls wear plain white robes with brown wooden crosses around their necks. In Germany 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.

Mission[edit]

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]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Communion — Please support Wikipedia.
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The Hillsdale Daily News
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:30:00 -0700

Several children from Hillsdale County recently took part in the St. Anthony Catholic Church second grade first communion. Pictured include: (front row, from left) Anna Alvarez, Hallie James, Annemarie Moore, Annie Mercer, Ahlise Friedline, Miriam ...
 
Iron Mountain Daily News
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:33:13 -0700

Seven young parishioners of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Iron Mountain received their First Communion recently. Msgr. James Kaczmarek gave a three part homily and addressed all celebrations for that day. The first communicants were given ...
 
Chron.com
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 09:15:26 -0700

The 45th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing on July 20 will be even more special to members of Webster Presbyterian Church as they will be commemorating the first communion on the moon, dubbed the Lunar Communion. When the late astronaut ...
 
Nueces County Record Star
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:36:15 -0700

Pictured in front: Noah Aguilar, Emanuel Villegas, Steven Muldrow, Liberty Solis, Miranda Trevino, Jayme Hernandez; Back row: Sr. Mary Martires O.P., Fr. George Nedeff, SOLT, Sr. Amor Vigare O.P., 2nd Gr. Teacher. Students graduate, celebrate First ...
 
DFW Catholic
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:41:15 -0700

We're looking for a passionate, talented person to join our team to lead the development, promotion, and implementation of our latest Catholic Moments initiative, the First Communion and Reconciliation Program. Dynamic Catholic fosters an environment ...
 
West Coast Sentinel
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:03:45 -0700

COMMUNION: Father Matthew Newman with the recipients (back): Darci Best, Jordon Olsen, Fr Matthew Newman, Mackenzie Best, Reef Tomney; front: Cooper Edmunds, Jack Kelsh, Tye Kenny, Harley Olsen, Fraser Gum, Ava Brace and Molly O'Halloran.

Derry Journal

Derry Journal
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:26:15 -0700

Big hearted children from St Anne's Primary School have handed over some of their First Communion money to Foyle Search & Rescue (FSR). The Primary 4 pupils agreed to forego some of their money to help raise £200 for the charity. Their contribution was ...
 
NBC4 Washington
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:56:15 -0700

She helped care for the grandchildren and made clothes for family, including for occasions like first communion, weddings and graduations. In 1987, naturalization wasn't an option for Munoz because she doesn't speak English, a requirement that drops at ...
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