In the United States, it is customary for children to wear a fancy white dress or suit when receiving their First Communion. In many ways the clothes children wear resemble what they will wear in the future on their wedding day.
However, some parishes are changing traditions and replacing the fancy clothes with plain white robes.
Why is that?
Focus on the sacrament
One of the reasons is that parishes are wanting to focus more on the reception of the sacrament than on an expensive dress or suit.
This is one of the motivating factors in Italy, where plain white garments have become the norm in many places.
The white dresses can often be a distraction, especially for families who are unable to afford expensive new clothes for First Communion.
Reminder of their baptismal garment
First Communion is technically one of the sacraments of initiation, tied directly to the sacrament of baptism.
At their baptism, the child receives a white garment that symbolizes their purity and is meant to be a reminder of the purity they should keep throughout their lives.
During the First Communion ceremony, often there will be a renewal of baptismal promises, reinforcing the connection between First Communion and baptism.
The unique catechetical program called Catechesis of the Good Shepherdemphasizes the white robe and is one of the biggest proponents for having the children wear the plain robe at their First Communion.
Whatever a child wears at their First Communion, the focus should not be on the clothing, but on the beautiful union of a child with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.