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A girl receiving her First Communion
The First Communion (First Holy Communion) is a Roman Catholic ceremony. It is the colloquial name for a person's first reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Roman Catholics believe this event to be very important, as the Eucharist is one of the central focuses of the Roman Catholic Church. First Communion is not practiced in most Eastern Catholic Churches, which practice Infant Communion. First Communion is also celebrated by some Protestant denominations, particularly Lutherans. Celebration of this ceremony is typically less elaborate in Protestant churches that practice it. A distinction that must be made is that Protestants do not believe in the true presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, but instead take it as a "representation," while Roman Catholics do believe in the true presence. First Communion typically takes place at age seven or eight, depending on the country. Adults who have not received their First Communion can go through a separate program called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA to receive this sacrament.

Traditions

First Communion is traditionally an important festive occasion for Roman Catholic families. Also, Holy Communion is the second sacrament of the seven.

Traditions surrounding First Communion usually include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the event and special clothing is usually worn. The clothing is often white to symbolize purity. Girls often wear fancy dresses and a veil attached to a headdress, as well as either long or short white gloves. In other communities girls commonly wear dresses passed down to them from sisters or mothers, or even simply their school uniforms plus the veiled headdress and gloves.

In many Latin America countries, boys wear military-style dress uniforms with gold braid aiguilettes. In Switzerlandmarker and Luxembourgmarker, both boys and girls wear plain white robes with brown wooden crosses around their necks.

In Scotlandmarker, boys traditionally wear kilts and other traditional Scottish dress which acompany the kilt.

Gifts of a religious nature are usually given, such as rosaries, prayer books, in addition to religious statues and icons. Gifts of cash are also common.

Many families have formal professional photographs taken in addition to candid snapshot in order to commemorate the event.

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