London Zu has shops in both Chiswick and Twickenham and both areas boast a healthy Catholic population. As such, every year in April, we are constantly asked for advice on what is a suitable First Holy Communion gift.
When talking to our customers many remember their own childhood experiences of the rosary beads they received and lost from Auntie Mary. Or the icons that scared them by their bedsides. And of course, the “Communion Money” they received on that special day. Indeed in Ireland, unspent “Communion Money” is a well worn metaphor for the over-thrifty habits a particular person may have. However today, whilst a rosary bracelet or necklace may be occasionally handed down, or a Crucifix might be placed in the children’s room, the Sacrament of the Eucharist and its significance to the Christian, and especially Catholic Traditions are often more vaguely interpreted.
What is 'First Holy Communion'?
The “First” is the first receipt of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which for Catholics is the second of the Seven Sacraments, mirroring those actions and guidance of Jesus at the Last Supper - and whilst for many denominations the symbolic mirroring ends there, for the practicing Catholic the belief that Christ is truly present through the mystery of ‘substantiation’ is one the cornerstones of the ritual’s significance.
How is it celebrated?
It is universally celebrated as a large family event. including a church ceremony where the girls are usually presented in white dresses and veils - symbolizing their innocent purity - and the boys are dressed in their new ‘Sunday Best’ or new uniforms.
What is a traditional gift?
Traditionally gifts of a religious nature were given (Rosary Beads or Prayers Books or Icons), and indeed treasured and kept through a life of practice. Today, many family members and friends give gifts of a more diverse nature. Money is still most common, and often enclosed with a small gift and a card. For a seven to eight year old, this is an exciting time.
What is a suitable modern day gift?
Typical gifts for a First Holy Communion today are : -
* A first Pearl Bracelet or Necklace (Girls)
* A Silver/Gold Cross or Crucifix on a Chain (Unisex)
* A Savings Box (Unisex)
* A Photo Frame to commemorate the occasion (Unisex)
* A Photo Album (Unisex)
* A Heart Necklace (Girls)
* A Charm Bracelet with First Charm (Girls)
* A Guardian Angel Pin (Unisex)
As part of the ritual of growing up within the Christian Tradition, this is a significant rite of passage for both the child and the parents. It often marks a transitional time and an increased rapidity towards young adolescence. Money in their pockets, savings boxes or bank accounts, the child begins the early days of decision making, and God Parents who’ve often had little to do in the early years can find themselves happily getting involved in their young charges lives once more. They are perhaps our true wonder years.