For Catholics, a child's first Communion is a rite of passage. Catholicism is expressed differently in cultures around the world, and Italian Catholics, in particular, view a child's first Communion as both a holy and a cultural event.
A first Communion is when a Catholic child takes the host, which in the Catholic faith is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Italy is a heavily Catholic country because of its close connection with Vatican City and long history with the Catholic Church.
The first-Communion gathering celebrates the growth of the child into a participating member of the Catholic Church. Relatives offer gifts and food to the child. For parents, the day is a momentous event that signifies a milestone in their child's development.
Although most first Communions feature proper dress, Italian first-Communion celebrations utilise elaborate dresses and suits for children. Girls wear first-Communion gowns made of silk and place veils over their heads. Boys wear typical black suit designs with ties.
Conventional gift ideas usually include religious items important in the Catholic Church. Common gifts given at an Italian first Communion may include a personal copy of the Bible, rosaries, or a religious statue. Often, family heirlooms from past first Communions are given to the child.
At many Italian first-Communion parties, pizzelle might be served. Pizzelle is a sweet waffle cookie usually with a vanilla flavour. The treat is made especially for the children.