First Communion / Eucharist
First Communion is a ceremony in some Christian traditions that occurs during the season of Easter. It is a time in which a person first receives the Eucharist. It is most common in the Latin Church tradition of the Catholic Church, as well as in many parts of the Lutheran Church and Anglican Communion. In churches that celebrate First Communion, it typically occurs between the ages of seven and thirteen. Celebrations surrounding First Communion vary, but often include family gatherings to celebrate the event. In addition, family members, god-parents and friends may give special gifts of a religious nature to the communicant. Depending on the religious denomination, this may include a bible or prayer book, rosary, saint’s medal or pin, and/or related gift items to mark the event.
In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, Confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. In some Protestant denominations, such as the Anglican Communion (Episcopal Church – USA), and the Methodist Churches, Confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation “renders the bond with the Church more perfect” because, while a baptized person is already a member, “reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.”
Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches view confirmation as a sacrament. In the East it is conferred immediately after baptism. In the West, this practice is usually followed when adults are baptized, but in the case of infants not in danger of death it is administered, ordinarily by a bishop, only when the child reaches the age of reason or early adolescence. Among those Catholics who practice teen-aged confirmation, the practice may be perceived, secondarily, as a “coming of age” rite. In traditional Protestant denominations, such as the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed Churches, confirmation is a rite that often includes a profession of faith by an already baptized person.
It is also required by most Protestant denominations for full membership in the respective Church, in particular for traditional Protestant churches, in which it is also recognized secondarily as a coming of age ceremony. Confirmation is may also be followed with a celebration with family and friends, and often the giving gifts to recognize the event, and maturity into the faith community.