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Not all Communion ceremonies and traditions are the same

The sacrament of First Holy Communion is one of the more momentous occasions in a young Christian's life. Many families find the day is so significant that they host parties after the ceremony. New communicants are given presents at these parties and relatives and friends express pride in the youngster's continuing devotion to his or her faith.

While Roman Catholics and Protestants share certain traditions with regards to First Holy Communion, there are some notable differences between the ceremonies and affiliated traditions as well.

* Age: Within the Roman Catholic church, it's common to receive First Holy Communion at the age of 7 or 8. But it's common for Protestants to wait until they are as old as 14 before they receive Communion for the first time.

* Ceremony: The ceremony of First Holy Communion is also different within the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant church. In the Protestant tradition, all communicants receive Communion at the same time, while new communicants within the Roman Catholic church receive their First Holy Communion before others in attendance.

* Dress: A communicant's attire varies depending on whether he or she is Roman Catholic or Protestant. Protestant girls typically wear a formal dress of any color, while boys wear a pair of dress slacks and a shirt. Roman Catholics tend to follow stricter guidelines. Girls wear a formal dress, but the dress is most often white. Roman Catholic boys typically dress in suits, complete with a necktie.

* Receiving the sacrament: Once a person receives Holy Communion, where they may receive Communion might depend on their individual faith. Roman Catholics, for instance, only allow those who received Communion within the Catholic church to receive the sacrament in a Catholic Church. Protestant tradition is less strict, and Protestants, upon receiving First Holy Communion, may then take it at any Protestant church. (Note: The Protestant church has many denominations.)