IRELAND still does Holy Communions and does them well. What is different nowadays is that the religious part of the day is somewhat cordoned off for those who are interested. Visitors are invited to share the day without having to show their Catholic colours. The occasion is relaxed however, there are still a few rituals that are worth knowing about.
1. The Mass
The sacrament is a closed shop. Places in the Church are limited to the well-prepped child and the family members who have shown that they can find their way in and out of a church.
2. Gift giving
This may require a visit to the garage. You’ve left it too late to order a thoughtful gift online. It’s time to load a few notes into an envelope. Luckily most service stations have given more thought to this event than you and cards are readily available. There may even be an ATM. It probably only hands out €50s and therefore you must too.
3. Jewellery giving
Be careful with jewellery. Even Nidge the hardened criminal in Love/Hate made sure that he checked with granny before buying the rosary beads or Holy Medal. You cannot just GIVE these gifts. The privilege of providing the jewels that are worn in the church on the day is awarded to family members with a history of church-going and/or gift giving.
4. The new dress code
The appearance of the glammy mammy wardrobe in honour of this spiritual event has opened up a whole new dress code amongst females. Sports-gear clad school-gate mothers are transformed into pencil-skirt wearing vamps. And what about Bean Ní Mhurchú in those six-inch heels!
5. The old modes of transport
The days of the helicopter and the stretch limo are over. Gone. You missed that phase. In Ireland we’re poor again and Dad has marked the occasion by putting petrol in the car. That’s your lot in terms of luxury transport.
6. Lapses of good manners from kids
It happens, the unappreciative child who moans at how little there is in the envelope. Leave him alone. He may have a point. Yes, you were probably a lot more appreciative in your day but you weren’t looking at two years working in Burger King if you wanted to go onto third level education. Times have changed.
More 1st Holy Communion pictures from yesterday pic.twitter.com/XnRKTcjeZq
— Mt. St. Michael (@MSMParish) May 8, 2016
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7. Social media
Treat this like a wedding. Brides don’t want the gown being seen on Facebook as they come up the aisle. Let parents post pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram before you do.
9. Casting the gown aside
If you are looking for photo opportunities, be aware that on arriving home the mini-bride garb and smart suit can be quickly ditched in favour of bouncy-castle friendly leggings. Take your pics in the church after the event.
10. The post wine bouncy castle accident
Wine or beer have been consumed, shoes have come off and the phrase “Sure, I’d like to give that thing a lash myself” is heard. Bouncing ensues, small children are displaced and ankles are sprained. The designated driver tut-tuts and takes the bouncer away in shame and pain.
Avril O’Reilly is the author of My First Holy Communion Keepsake Journal and My First Holy Communion Keepsake Activity Book, available on lulu.com and Amazon