First Communion (Erste Kommunion) Experiences: Germany

Figure 1.--A German reader has sent us this photograph from his First Communion in 1990. He tells us that the "sammet" (velvet) jacket seen here, was the one his uncle used to wear when he was a boy, usually with short trousers. Click on the image to see what an ealier German boy with a First Communion candel looked like.

We have received a few comments from our German readers about their First Communuions or their relatives First Communions. Often these personal experience sections are the most interesting sections of HBC. Hopefully we can expand this section as more of our German readers provide us information on their own experiences. Readers are welcomed to make these contributions in German if that would be easier.

German Twins (1915)

A reader had proivided us a portrait of her great grandmother and her twin sister dressed up in their First Communion outfits in 1915. As was common in Europe and America in the 20th century, the girls wear white junior wedding dresses for First Communion. The girls are clearly very close as they are holding on to each other. They are dressed in idenbtical outfits. They have white flowers in their hair, white dresses, white neclklesses, white long stockings, and white high-top shoes. The dress seems more of an ordinary white dress than a specual junior wedding dress that many girls wore for First Communion. This probably reflects a moderate income family. Mother seems to have often dressed the twins in identicakl outfits. Our trader has provided us a 1913 portrait of the girls in identical dresses and hairbows. The girls y were from Gladbach, an area east of Cologne in western Germany.

Albert W. Hanne II (about 1940)

A German reader tells us about his First Communion from his autobiography, "Then there were the intensive religious instructions, with studies of the Bible and Catechism. I got enough religion shoved into me to last me for the rest of my life and then some. At the age of 9 I was being prepped for my First Communion. The indoctrination was thorough. For weeks before the event, we attended special preparatory lectures by Pastor Alpers and Kaplan Cravic, his assistant, and prayers once a week, including the practice of the ceremony itself. Our class of candidates were about 50 boys and an equal number of girls, perhaps less, and for the High Mass ceremony the first 8 or so pews were reserved for us, with the first 4 for the boys and the other four for the girls. It was a real big deal! We all had brand new suits or dresses made, more like a uniform, black suits, including shorts and black stockings for us boys. We looked ridiculous. (See picture). Everybody had a very tall candle, which during the ceremony was placed into a candle holder attached to one of the pews and extinguished during mass. A special communion rail was set up at the top of the stairs. Upon a discreet hand signal from the Pastor six candidates, with hands pressed together in prayer, slowly would file out of the pew, ascend the stairs, line up in front of the Pastor, genuflect in simultaneous synchronization, and kneel down. The Pastor then stepped forward and delivered the Eucharist onto our tongues. Then: stand up, genuflect, file back down the stairs, re-enter the pew and kneel down. Then put your hands over your eyes and pray. The whole process then repeated with the next 6 candidates."

German Boy (1990)

A HBC reader tells us, "At my first communion on White Sunday 1990. I wore a white shirt and a red bow tie. I had a black velvet vacket and grey long trousers worn with shiny black shoes. The "sammet" jacket uit seen here, was the one my uncle used to wear when he was a boy, usually with short trousers (figure 1). There's a saying in German: "Samt und Seide". I wore my hair long, over my ears." [HBC note: That translates to English as "velvet and silk", but I'm not sure what it means other than two very expensive fabrics.] Our German reader tells us, "The other boys wore suits, too. Black trousers and bow ties, one of them a black jacket and the other a grey--black checked ("caroed") jacket." Note the candal that he holds, that was a tradition for German boys. We note many of the older portraits of German boys doing their First Communions also had these candals. I remember, that after service I got serveral presents (especially a bible and a church song book) and there was a gathering with our cloest relatives around a coffee table.

German Boy (Undated)

Another German reader tells us, "I wore a suit for my First Communion in 19??. For my confirmation I also wore a suit which is the common practice. Protestants are usually confirmed around age 14 years. This is so that the children have a similar age for entering the "social world". I was confirmed at age 18."


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Created: June 10, 2002
Last edited: 6:04 AM 11/23/2018