The sacrament of First Communion is an important tradition for Catholic families and individuals. For Catholics, Holy Communion is the third of seven sacraments received. It occurs only after receiving Baptism, and once the person has reached the age of reason (usually, around the second grade). First confession (the first sacrament of penance) must precede the reception of the Eucharist. This order of the sacraments is practiced universally by all Latin-rite Catholics, whereas Byzantine Catholics (Eastern Rite), for example, celebrate the sacraments of baptism, confirmation (Chrismation), and Holy Communion on the same day as an infant’s baptism.
Traditions of celebration surrounding First Communion usually include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the event. The first communicant wears special clothing. The clothing is often white to symbolize purity, but not in all cultures. Often, a girl wears a fancy dress and a veil attached to a chaplet of flowers or some other hair ornament. In other communities, girls commonly wear dresses passed down to them from sisters or mothers, or even simply their school uniforms with the veil or wreath. Boys may wear a suit and tie, tuxedo, their Sunday best, or national dress, with embroidered arm bands worn on the left arm and occasionally white gloves.