The First Holy Communion is a religious celebration in some Christian traditions in which a child receives the Holy Eucharist, symbolizing symbolizes a rite of passage – the communicants readiness to welcome Jesus into their lives and willingness to follow the teachings of the Church.
This longstanding tradition has always involved dressing up in special clothes. Communion dress styles range from traditional, to modern, and depending on the Church’s dress code, the acceptable colors are white, ivory or light pink, with or without colorful accents, such as sashes or flowers. In some communities girls wear a family heirloom pieces, passed on by their mothers or sisters.
Why Wear an Heirloom Holy Communion Dress?
There are plenty of reasons why a vintage communion gown would be perfect for your little princess, despite the plethora of beautiful gowns for the Holy Communion available today. If you have been shopping for a first communion gown for your daughter you have probably noticed the trend – lots of fluffiness, bling and elaborate tiered skirts. It really brings up the nostalgia for the adorable communion dresses from some simpler times. The cute lace that just skimmed your skinned knee. The bobby socks and kitten heels. The understated dresses that were actually suited for someone under four feet tall.
Whether created from new or heirloom fabrics, some communion gowns are possessions cherished through generations, just like wedding dresses. These are the types of gowns that are too beautiful to just wear once. Imagine your little boy or girl, thirty something years from now, dressing their own child in the gown they wore on their christening day. This makes an heirloom gown so much more than just a dress.
Wearing the simple heirloom dress will help your daughter and your family focus on the spiritual importance of the day, rather than losing focus and worrying about the material aspects. A dress that has been in the family for generations will make you realize how tradition makes you feel closer to your family no matter how much time has passed.
Vintage First Communion Dresses
Traditionally Holy Communion Gowns were fashioned of solid white materials with minimal embellishments. If you take the trip down the memory lane looking at old photos of first communion ceremonies, you can see how girls’ dresses beautifully display customs and nuances of different traditions.
Irish families take great pride in their child’s First Holy Communion, so the dresses for this occasion are ornamented with Irish symbolism and artistry. Girls wear tea-length ball gowns that almost look like mini versions of wedding dresses, complete with veils and white gloves.
Before the late 1960s Italian girls wore elaborate white dresses and veils, which made older girls look like little brides. The Church in Italy called a halt, and as a result, in Italy, by the early 1970s, rules were made about wearing a simple white dress – i.e. full length woolen type cloth rather than lace and tulle, with long sleeves and high neckline. Parish Priests in Italy started to refuse to celebrate First Communion if the child turned up in the outfits that resembled bridal wear. The little girls wear the plain ‘nun’s habit’ style dress, sometimes with a ring of white flowers on the hair, sometimes with a white cloth of the same fabric as the dress in a ‘nun’s style’ headdress.
Spanish first communion dresses are usually handmade from quality fabrics: silk, organza, linen, muslin and light and airy cottons, finished with delicate embroidery. Sometimes dresses are more elaborate and feature the image of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” embroidered on the front of the skirt.