First communion offers many financial firsts

Ireland is a country with every town founded around a religious center. Although in recent years faith has substantially waned, there are many sacraments that still hold a lot of cultural value. One of these is the sacrament of first communion, which commonly takes place in second class with the applicants usually around the ages of 7 or 8.

This widely celebrated day usually brings together families, all ready to celebrate the child’s initial steps towards being fully immersed in the catholic faith. These celebrations do not come without a price; in recent Ulster Bank surveys, parents have reported spending close to €900 to finance every detail of the big day. This number is significantly higher than previous years.

This hefty number is composed of a multitude of spending outlets: clothing fit for the occasion, party decor, prices of food and drink, and general entertainment for the after-communion party. As one could imagine, there prices add up quickly and can make this holy day one that parents fret having.

1 in 10 people throwing a communion festivities reported asking family or friends for help financing the even, with some people going as far as to take out small loans. A few families reported having some of their child’s communion gifts being used to finance the event as well.

I can remember my own first communion being a bit of a spectacle, but as a child in the first grade I was excited to have a day that celebrated my spiritual accomplishments  and gave me a bit of undeserved spending money. My experience was very positive, and I can remember being astounded by the $300+ I received from doing almost nothing.

The Irish first communion experience seems to be very similar to that of my United States one, with parties following first communion being just as large and costly. The one main difference for myself at least was the amount of money I received as the communioner. In 2019 the average amount of money that children have received for their first communion was €617, with some children receiving up to €800.

Many parents note that this is the first time that they actually talk with their children about money, which correlates well with the amount of children’s saving accounts that are opened not long after the first communion season. This narrative relates to myself as well; this was when I opened my first bank account.

Overall, this religious sacrament is a pivotal part in many young christians lives. They are accepted into a sacred ritual of the church and also begin to gain a limited consciousness of finances from their parents.

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