Christian Celebrations


Figure 1.--Here we see German boys doing their First Communion participating in a church procession, we think in the early-1960s.

We note several ceremonies involving children and Christian Communion.The sacrament of First Communion is the first major step of a child in joining the Church. Perhaps because of the way the Catholic Church views Communion, it tends to be a more important event in the Catholic Church than in other churches. The Catholic Church tends to give special importance to First Communion. In many churches, altar boys assist the priest in celebrating the mass. First communion is a major event in the life of a child. Practices vary from church to church and country to country. Children receive First Communiin at various ages, depending on the church or country. The event is celebrated differently. The First Communion is especially important in Catholic churches. Normally the child dresses up for the rvent, often in a new suit--although this is now less common for boys. The styles of suits worn at First Communion is a good reflection of formal boys' clothing. Readers in France and French Canada have mentioned Solemn Communion to us. While First Communin takes place in the first orcsecond year of prinary school, solemn communion takes place the last year of prinary school. Before World War II, this was a time when many children would be ending their academic studies. Some churches also make a major event out of the child' renewing his vows. HBC has less information on this event. It thought initially it was primarily a Catholic celebration called "Renewal" because the ininial information was from a French source and the French word is a cognate for renewal. The actual event is of course "Confirmation" and is a major event in a child's life when he or she confirms membership in the church. Confirmation is the renewal of baptismal vows (usually taken on a child's behalf by his sponsors when the child was a baby in arms). Catholics tend to put more of an emphasis on First Communion than many Protestant churches. Protestant churches tend to put more emphasis on Confirmation. The rite of receiving Holy Communion in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches does not involve any official vows. The vows are associated with Baptism, Confirmation, and of course Ordination.

First Communion

Communion is an ecclesiastical term signifying the relationship to each other, involving mutual cliaims and duties, in which those persons stand who are united by unifomity of belief into one religious body or belief. The most important symbol of the realization of communion is the act of partaking of the Lord's Supper, a rite itself known as Communion. There are theological differences between different denominations. There are also denominal differences between First Communion celebrations. The Catholic Church tends to give special importance to First Communion. First communion is a major event in the life of a Christian child, especially children in the Catholic and associated churches. Practices vary from church to church and country to country. Children receive First Communiin at various ages, depending on the church or country. And this has changed over time. The event is celebrated differently. The First Communion is especially important in Catholic churches. Normally the child dresses up for the event at least in the 20th century as family incomes rose. Often this mean a new suit for boys and junior wedding dresses for the girls--both expensive items. This is now less common for boys as suits in general have vbecome less common. The styles of suits worn at First Communion is a good reflection of contemprary formal boys' clothing at the time and in each different country, although in Europ we see casspcks popular in some countries.

Solemn Communion

Readers in France and French Canada have mentioned Solemn Communion to us. While First Communin takes place in the first orcsecond year of prinary school, solemn communion takes place the last year of prinary school. Before World War II, this was a time when many children would be ending their academic studies. One source tells us, "The 'Solemn Communion' was an institution that was very common in certain parts of Europe. It was particularly however, associated with France. I don't know about the USA, but I imagine that possibly immigrant parishes may have retained their own traditions. Before the decree of St. Pius X, Quam Singulari, urging an earlier age for the reception of First Holy Communion, the Sacrament was often administered at an older age - around 12 -14. Thus the Solemn Communion was the First Holy Communion . In France, it was invested with some aspects of solemnity - the children renewed the baptismal promises, were consecrated to the BVM at the end, and often ivested with the scapular; Confirmation was also received at this time and it was generally a Big Bash. Quam Singulari was the first of a series of instructions in which children were ordered to be admitted to the Holy Communion at a younger age. Consequently, this annoyed many people who had grown used to the time-honoured ceremonies of the Solemn Communion, some of which could not be done with children as young as 7. However, the directive could not be ignored and so the practice was usually as follows. The children were admitted either to a "private First Holy Communion" which was a very "quiet" affair, or a "General First Holy Communion" every year, which did not have much, if any, solemnity. At an older age (11-13), they made their Solemn Communion. It was no longer the First Communion, but it retained all the trappings - Solemn High Mass, renewal of baptismal promises, consecration to the BVM, or the Sacred Heart, etc. processions with clergy and sodalities, and the sacrament of Confirmation. Accompanied of course, by the non-liturgical bits like new clothes, gifts, parties, and so forth."

Confirmation

Some churches also make a major event out of the child' renewing his vows. HBC has less information on this event. It thought initially it was primarily a Catholic celebration called "Renewal" because the ininial information was from a French source and the French word is a cognate for renewal. The actual event is of course "Confirmation" and is a major event in a child's life when he or she confirms membership in the church. Confirmation is the renewal of baptismal vows (usually taken on a child's behalf by his sponsors when the child was a baby in arms). Catholics tend to put more of an emphasis on First Communion than many Protestant churches. Protestant churches tend to put more emphasis on Confirmation. The rite of receiving Holy Communion in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches does not involve any official vows. The vows are associated with Baptism, Confirmation, and of course Ordination.







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Created: 8:32 AM 1/25/2015
Last edited: 8:32 AM 1/25/2015