Gifts for Religious Celebrations

There are a number of religious rites of passage that involve inviting guests to celebrate with a family. During these times, you will probably be expected to bring a gift for the young lady or man who is the center of attention. However, if this religious celebration is foreign to you—or if this is your first child celebrating such a rite of passage—you may not know what's appropriate to give. Here are some ideas to consider.

Bar Mitzvah

In the Jewish faith, a boy is considered to be a man at age 13, when he celebrates his bar mitzvah. Part of the ritual of the bar mitzvah is an elaborate temple service, during which this boy, now a man, is called to read from the Torah (the collection of laws, written in Hebrew, that define Judaism). It is the first time he is allowed to do this, and it's a big deal.

Traditionally, parents give the bar mitzvah boy a prayer shawl, called a tallis, as a gift. He is expected to wear that tallis when he reads from the Torah.

Part of a bar mitzvah is a celebration afterward, which usually involves a lot of dining and dancing. It is customary for guests at a bar mitzvah to bring gifts for the bar mitzvah boy of honor, and these gifts are traditionally the gift of money. These gifts of money could be in the form of cash or a savings bond.

What's an appropriate monetary amount to give for a bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, or first communion gift?

For bar and bat mitzvahs, $50 is a good starting point, though close friends and family may want to start their gifts at $100. For a first holy communion, friends may want to give a smaller amount ($25 to $50) while family members may want to give a more significant amount (starting at $100).

Bat Mitzvah

A bat mitzvah is similar to a bar mitzvah, except it's what you call the rite of passage that Jewish girls go through when they turn 13. It is their first time being called to read the Torah and, like for boys, it's a big deal.

Jewish women don't wear prayer shawls when attending synagogue, so a typical gift from the parents may be an ornate prayer book. It usually features her name engraved inside.

Like the bar mitzvah boy a bat mitzvah girl can expect to have a large celebration after her temple service. Gift guidelines for guests are the same as when attending a bar mitzvah.

First Holy Communion

In most archdioceses in North America, Catholic boys and girls receive their first holy communion in second grade. This is the first time that they are allowed to participate in the Eucharist, which is a part of a Catholic Church service where parishioners accept a wafer and wine that represents or is considered the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Girls usually wear white dresses and veils to their first holy communion. Boys wear dark or white suits. Friends and family members are invited to witness this first communion, including the child's godparents. Then there is usually a celebration afterward.

Traditionally, parents and godparents give the child a gift that is religious in nature—a bible, rosary beads, or a prayer book. However, it's acceptable to give the child the gift of money as well.

Confirmation

This is the third of three religious rituals that Catholic children are expected to go through to fully embrace their faith. It starts with a baby's baptism after birth. Then there is first holy communion. Finally, around age 12, a child is confirmed and is accepted as a full member of his church congregation.

Nearly every Christian religion has some form of confirmation for its youngest members, and this process usually involves attending confirmation classes that culminate in a church service, called the confirmation.

Families usually celebrate a child's confirmation with a party, where it's traditional to give the newly confirmed child a gift. Again, anything that's religious in nature is an appropriate gift to give, as is the gift of money.

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