Saturday, May 07, 2016
White dresses and sailor suits
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
And in Spain there is a time for nearly everything.
A time to put away the winter clothes,
A time to get the summer house ready
and, of course,
A time for First Communion.
Last week, in Cieza, my school was closed on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I asked my charges about the days off. Young or old the answer was as one; Communion. My students had worn the dress, eaten the cake, handed over the gift or taken the vows dependant on where they fitted within the cycle.
Driving in to town today there was an item on the local radio to say that Communion season was about to kick off in Pinoso. What follows is, more or less, a translation of the article that formed the basis for the radio piece.
This year 46 boys and girls will celebrate their First Communion in Pinoso.
This weekend, here in Pinoso, will see the First Communions of this year's cycle in the Parish Church of St Peter. There will be Communion Services, from midday, for the next three Sundays. There is just one exception. For family reasons one little girl will have her First Communion this Saturday.
For may years now Communions have moved far beyond the strictly religious. They are now a top tier social phenomenon, not only for the children who take the sacrament for the first time, but also for the carers and families who, nowadays, have to organise their social calendars around these events.
Before the special day, boys and girls will have attended catechism classes over a three year period and becoming involved in the daily life of the Church; the ritual of the mass, religious song and the reading of scripture.
Parish Priest Manuel Llopis pointed out that whilst the key participants are the celebrant children themselves the events also involve lots of other people from church choristers to the family members. "It's a lovely festival," he said, "so full of happiness and vitality that it would melt the heart of the most hardened cynic."
This year there are just forty six youngsters taking their First Communion in Pinoso which is one of the lowest figures in recent years. Father Manuel is quick to point out that next year there will be far more if the group of second year students in his catechism class is anything to go by.
May is traditionally the month for First Communions rounded off with the Corpus Christi festivities. Corpus, which is celebrated on the ninth Sunday after the first full moon in Spring, will fall early this year, on 29th May.
And, after such a generous write up it would be unkind of me to point out the rivalries that grow up around the most lavish frock, the biggest banquet, the most innovative photo shoot or the flashest limousine.