May is the month of Holy Communions.
The First Communion is one of the most important and precious sacraments in the life of a young Christian. It celebrates the moment when, for the first time, he or she will be able to approach the Holy Eucharist, participate fully in the Mass and receive the Body of Our Lord Jesus from the Priest. A truly unique and unrepeatable event, not only for the young faithful, who have prepared for it by a long catechetical journey over the two previous years, but also for their family, which, as tradition dictates, also makes it a occasion of celebration.
But we should stop for a moment to think about what the First Communion celebrations represent today.
It’s true that to make the day of First Communion a feast in the fullest sense of the word, and as such it should be celebrated by a big lunch, to which relatives, friends, gifts are invited, by a special dress for the young celebrant, are all ways to underline importance and value. However, it is necessary to ensure all these external elements are transformed into the true core for the day, at the focus of the celebration, overshadowing the true doctrinal and spiritual significance of the sacrament itself.
Too often it happens that the First Communion degenerates into a social event alone, an opportunity for the families of the children who participate to show off beautiful clothes and expensive banquets, often also facing very large costs, but losing sight of what really matters.
Too much emphasis is given to the outward appearance of this precious event, and by doing so, somehow the most profound and authentic spiritual meaning is betrayed.
It is a delicate thing to discuss, because it’s also true that it is right to make the day of First Communion a great feast for the child approaching the Eucharist for the first time and for those who love them, but at the same time, they risk exaggerating it.
Some parishes try to avoid the problem of the garment by offering to rent very simple white tunics to the children, and requiring them to use them during the ceremony. The white tunic expresses all the simplicity and purity expected of these new young Christians, who have been to receive the Eucharist for the first time. Because it is amazing when we discover the exaggerations some children wear as ceremonial dresses, particularly girls, for this great occasion. Just enter ‘communion dress’ into any search engine to obtain a bewildering snapshot. Lace, frills, long trainings, better suited to a Disney princess than someone who has come to the end of a deep, meaningful spiritual and human journey!
But there’s more, and always a concern with girls in particular. Much, too often, on the occasion of the First Communion, they have hair and make-up that to describe as out of place would be a euphemism. It’s true, we live in an era where appearance is taken as a social status, where children are constantly bombarded by inputs that impose precise aesthetic canons from a very young age, without which it is impossible to be recognized by their peers, appreciated, or become popular. Most of these inputs come from the media, from the world of entertainment, and they do not take account the fact that receiving these signals are often terribly young people, very exposed and malleable, whose perception of themselves and their appearance will be irremediably influenced by such unattainable models. Or their mothers who want at all costs to turn their daughters into small, well-dressed, slightly vain girls, who ‘need to show off by being fashionable.
The results do not change.
On a day where everything should speak about innocence and purity, spiritual candour and a new, fresh awareness of being Christians, most of the children appear like little models from a glamour magazine, or from a cartoon film, in fact, or even worse, like little miniature couples.
Beyond the absolutely wrong message, what emerges from such scenarios is a profound misunderstanding, particularly about the role of families, and the value of the sacrament one is about to celebrate. And if certain values are not accepted by adults, how can we expect children to make them their own?
Holy art dresses: beautiful, but above all suitable for a First Communion
There are valid (and less expensive …) alternatives to lace, bows, necklines and designer clothes.
Even if you don’t want to resort to the aforementioned rented tunics, which not all parishes offer, there are dresses for First Communion which are beautiful, well packaged, and above all appropriate for the ceremony that is about to take place. In the Holyart catalogue, there are various types, with a range of possibilities and combinations suitable for every child and every requirement. These are available in various sizes which are easily identifiable by being indicated in cm.
It starts with unisex tunics, which are suitable for both males and females, not unlike those used by altar boys who assist the priest during mass, to models that have been produced in a more specific way for boys and girls. In general these are dresses for the First Communion produced entirely in Italy by artisan workshops, some are very simple and linear, others have folds or pleats (wide folds usually placed on the rear side of the cassock) which make them more wearable, and a better accompaniment for the figure, with gold edges, or embroidery.
Fabrics range from cotton to polyester, the colour is almost always white, in all its shades, ranging from ivory to ice white. The embroideries offer a wide range of variations, from simple golden borders that adorn the hem of the dress and the sleeves, to more complex embroideries, in the shape of a cross, for example, covering the entire chest. Some of our First Communion dresses are also enriched by a scapula, a strip of cloth with an opening for the head, that rests on the chest and the back, which some religious orders wear over the priestly garment, edged in gold or decorated with embroidery. Others have additional decorative elements, like this model, embellished by a stole on which honeycomb cross is embroidered. Still others have the edges embellished with gallons, trimmings shaped like a crushed ribbon made of interlaced silk threads, usually gold or red.
An interesting variant is the Tarcisiana, a white dress similar to the gown, but decorated with two vertical red stripes that descend from the shoulders. The name derives from San Tarcisio, the patron saint of altar boys.
The simplicity of these clothes does not preclude the possibility of making them even more beautiful with a series of accessories designed especially for them, to complete the effect. We are referring to items related to the solemnity one is about to celebrate: crosses, headbands, crowns of fabric flowers, and girdles, the priestly belts with which to tie the tunics.
The clothing is completed by a beautiful First Communion cross, perhaps made of olive wood, simple, and suitable for children of that age. Because nothing is more beautiful than innocence to celebrate such a special day.
Below we present the products we’ve described, all of which are available on our website