Children received an average of €570 for making their First Communion this year — with parents shelling out almost €850 on the day.
According to the annual Ulster Bank Communion survey, the average amount received by children that did their communion this year was €570 compared with €546 in 2016 — a 4% increase.
One in four children (23%) received more than €800 this year and 13% received more than €1,000.
Boys are more likely to receive a larger amount of money — the average received by boys is €591 compared to €550 for girls.
The amount of money received by boys increased by 11% this year, compared to a 2.3% decrease for girls.
Spending by parents rose very slightly to €845 this year compared to the 12% jump made between 2015 and 2016.
When it came to spending on food and drink and party celebrations, parents forked out an average of €388 — a 5% increase on last year. Similarly, there was a 5% increase on the spend on the child’s outfit with the average spend this year coming to €185.
However, spending on makeup and hair for girls fell by 27% to €41 this year, while the spend on children’s entertainment almost halved to €78. The spend on outfits for other family members came to €153, a 27% decrease on the figure for 2016.
The survey also found that 92% of parents financed the day through their own savings — an increase of 5% on last year.
Half of the parents surveyed agree that there is pressure to spend as much money on the day as other parents do, but almost a third would rather save the money for birthdays or summer holidays instead.
The vast majority (85%) of parents said that some of the money received will be put into a savings account in the child’s own name.
The most common purchases with Communion money are toys (42%) and clothes (31%). However, there has been a significant drop in the number of children buying computer games and sports equipment — down 19% and 12% respectively on 2016.
Managing director of retail banking at Ulster Bank Chris Wilson said it was encouraging that some of the money received by children making their Communion is put into savings: “Children pick up financial habits from a really young age, so we’re delighted to see that 85% of children making their Communion this year will put some of their money into a savings account and for over a quarter of them, it will be their first ever account.”
Last month, a priest pleaded with parents not to reduce their child’s big day into “an orgy of materialism with miniature brides”.
Fr Paddy O’Kane said many children do not return to Mass, often making their First Communion their last.
Fr O’Kane, who has just returned to Ballymagroarty parish in Derry after a five-month pastoral sabbatical in the US, said parents opted into the childhood sacrament for a variety of reasons.
These included their Catholic identity or “a meaningful spiritual celebration”.
Others did so “because everyone else is doing it” or simply because they want “to throw a party”.
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