For Catholics around the world, a First Communion is sacred service. It’s a rite of passage and is seen to be one of the most important occasions in a Catholic’s life.
Also known as the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, it is typically performed when a child is seven or eight years of age and celebrates the child’s decision to follow the teachings of the Catholic church.
During the service, the child will eat the Bread of Life – or a wafer biscuit called a host – and drink communion wine from the Cup of Life.
The service may include a procession for all first communicants but will typically be performed during a regular Sunday Mass service.
Choosing what to wear to a First Communion is highly important, and it’s expected that everyone will dress appropriately, from dress through to communion shoes.
Background of Communion:
Communion gets its origins from the Last Supper; the final meal Jesus took with his disciples before his crucifixion. The meal, which is found in the Bible in Matthew 26:26-28, took place during the festival of Passover.
During the meal, Jesus took some bread, blessed it, gave it to his disciples, and said “Take, eat; this is my body.” After this, he took a cup and again blessed it and gave it to his disciples. As they drank, he said “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
The bread and wine, representing his body and blood, was a symbolic gesture of his new covenant – an agreement made between God and religious community. Shared with his disciples, it was decreed by Jesus to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
This formed the basis of the Communion service, a tradition upheld to this day.
What to wear – girls:
When it comes to choosing what to wear to a First Communion, there are several things to consider.
For example, what dresses should be worn by a girl?
Dresses themselves can be as intricate and ornate or as simple as is desired – but modesty must be upheld at all times. Dresses are almost exclusively white in colour, as this symbolises innocence and purity – something valued by the Catholic church.
To accompany the dress, girls can elect to wear stockings, a veil, and/or a headdress, such as a headband or a small tiara.
When it comes to footwear, again this too should be modest, and should ideally be a closed toe shoe. Some of these first communion shoes will come in a white satin design, embellished with a diamante design.
With the service itself taking place in a church, choosing something that’s appropriate to wear in church should be kept at the forefront of your mind.
What to wear – boys:
For boys, again modesty needs to be kept to the fore.
Boys will wear a white shirt, which will be teamed with either a white or black suit jacket – although in recent years some churches have become more relaxed about colours. It will always be worth checking with your church to establish any particular dress code that should be adhered to.
Shoes should typically be of a dark colour in nature and should be of a smart shoe style – akin to something you’d wear with a suit.
Boys should also not wear informal clothing such as t-shirts and shorts, no matter how lax your church is. The First Communion service is seen as the beginning of adulthood, so it is important to dress correctly.
Whilst it’s important to be correctly dressed in church so not to be seen as unseemly or cause any offence, your child’s First Communion should be seen as a great ceremonial occasion. There is a tradition of giving children meaningful gifts for the occasion, which can be a great memento of what will be an enjoyable and memorable occasion for everybody.