Celebrate First Holy Communion

Celebrate First Holy Communion

The most obvious tradition concerning First Communion is the clothing.  Finding the perfect white dress is generally considered the female prerogative.  In the Catholic Church that may begin at Baptism but it takes a profound forward stance when children make their First Communion.
Traditionally little girls wear frilly, white dresses with white gloves, socks and shoes as accessories.  They often carry a little white purse with a small white covered prayer book and a pearl or white rosary inside. And of course, there is the white veil every little girl wears to receive her Communion.
At one time boys also dressed in white from head to toe, often white suits.  Today the more accepted dress is a white shirt and tie, or navy tie with navy pants.  Boys are also given prayer books and rosaries.
The reason behind the white dress is to symbolize the child's purity and serenity and willingness to receive Christ.
Some families carry the tradition of handing these special dresses, shirts or accessories down from mothers to sisters or among siblings and cousins.
Many families have professional photographs (even keep albums) to commerate this special day.  Photos are sometimes allowed in church as the child is given Communion.  More often there are group pictures with the priest and the catechist along with the child, the class of First Communicants or individually family pictures.
The day, its events and traditions, are significant in defining one's relationship with Jesus Christ. The more memorable a family can make the First Holy Communion Party the child is likely to accept to understand the unique relationship each and every human being should have with Jesus.
After the special ceremony many families (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, even neighbors and friends) gather to continue the celebration with a special meal.  There is even more reason to celebrate if more than one member of an extended family makes his/her First Communion on the same day or within weeks of one another.  Adults, too, are likely to celebrate the day a family member or friend joins the Church through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).
While the content of the 1st Communion Party meal depends upon the family--often the main dish  or dessert will be the Communicant's favorite--some families wish to take the celebration at bit further.
When a Catholic child is baptized they are given a blessed candle to commerate the event.  First Communicants are also given blessed candles.  Often, families with use these candles as centerpieces.  Whether held in simple candle holders or arranged in the center of an elaborate piece with flowers, greens, and/or fruit, whether edible or decorative, the display of these special candles is significant.  Sometimes the candles will be displayed on a separate altar which includes a special chalice or the child's baptismal clothing.
Some families may choose significant foods such as grapes coupled with round crackers and cheese on a platter at their 1st Communion Party.

            Boule or round breads served with certain dips such as (cheese or spinach, crab or tuna) or often provided as appetizers.
            There is no recipe or single tradition for the main meal although certain foods are associated as Eucharist (communion) symbols.
            1.  Boule (round bread) as associated with the kind of unleavened bread Jesus ate at the Last Supper.  Unleavened breads are less popular now so a round bread is a good substitute.  Sometimes IHS or INRI (the letters used to signify Jesus Christ or the Eucharist) are imprinted on the Bread in some way
            2. Smaller breads served as symbolic of the host used at Communion.
            3.  Fish served in a basket as a symbol of the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
            4.  Grapes as a symbol of the wine.  Or grapes served with wine, bread and cheese.

Party Favors
Although it is not common to supply party favors for a First Communion Celebration, if a large number of children are involved, children like to receive tokens, reminders of the party.  It is important, then, to keep the theme of the party about First Communion.  

1.    Tokens, the Miraculous Medal or other patron saints are good 1st Communion  favors.  Perhaps a medal portraying the First Communicant's namesake.  
2.     Prayer Cards with the First Communion date, perhaps name and address or other personal information, printed on the back of the First Communion favors.  The front side can hold a picture, such as that of the Chalice and host, or a Communion Prayer.
3.     Small coloring books with First Communion as the central theme.
4.     Small story books with the First Communion as the central theme.
5.     When children are involved, cookies and cupcakes are always a must.  Cupcakes ices with pictures of the Communion Chalice or cookies cut in the form of the chalice or some other religious theme are always good 1st Communion Favors.


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