The study carried out by Ulster Bank found that although the spend was very high, it was still a 4% decrease on the €744 average spend on Communions in 2012.
The breakdown of spending on Communions was as follows:
*Child’s outfit for the day, €163 (down 9% compared to last year);
*Outfits for other family members, €190 (up 8%);
*The party/celebrations/food and drink €291 (down 4%);
*Children’s entertainment €69 (down 20%).
The survey revealed that children received a staggering €521 on average for celebrating their First Holy Communion, a significant increase from €432 last year.
Of the €177 that the average child has spent to date, the most popular items bought with their Communion money were video games (42%), toys (37%), and clothes (35%).
About 10% of children surveyed said they had not spent any of their Communion money and opted to save it instead.
The Ulster Bank study found that 88% of parents were in a position to pay for their child’s First Holy Communion with their own savings. Fewer parents (5%) took out a loan compared to last year. However, of those who did, the average amount of money borrowed has more than doubled from €343 to €837.50.
The changing nature of Communion and Confirmation in Ireland has gained increasing attention in recent years, with claims families are going into debt to pay for expensive parties as part of the celebrations.
Last month, a Laois-based priest Fr Paddy Byrne said the ceremonies can at times come with a “hostile” atmosphere as parents who have left the Church still feel obliged to let their children to take part in the religious event.
“There’s a majority [of parents] who are quite unruly when it comes to the basic etiquette of how to behave.
“I’ve often been asked [during the ceremony] ‘do you have wifi here, can people go on Facebook?’
“It’s time for a wake-up call, to be pragmatic and honest in changing the way we do our business,” he said.
Fr Sean McDonagh, a representative of the independent group, the Association of Catholic Priests, also called on individual priests to start talking about reforming Communion and Confirmation ceremonies as the Church hierarchy is unlikely to do it for them.