Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Marcia’s First Communion

October 24th, 2009

Marcia, Peke’s 12 year-old, sister invited me to go to her First Communion and party afterwards.

Every year all the boys and girls in the town who turn 12 during that year attend a ceremony in the Catholic Church known as Primera Comunión. This is the first time they partake of the flesh and blood of Christ. A few days before they confess all their sins in preparation of the ceremony.

During the ceremony they sing, say prayers, read passages, repeat certain phrases, partake of the wine and bread, light candles and wave them around, and receive their first rosemary (the little string of beads used to help keep track of their Hail Mary’s and such).

After this they undergo 3 years of Catholic training before being confirmed at 15.

It was a nice ceremony. Marcia’s Mom wanted me to capture every moment of the ceremony on film, so I stood along the wall towards the front filming every move Marcia made.

She was so cute. The girls dress in white dresses and adorn their hair with white beads and other accessories. Every so often she would look back towards me, smile and wave. I could tell she felt really special to have someone filming her.

The most beautiful part of the ceremony was when they helped each other to light their little candles and waved them around while singing. Unfortunately this is precisely the portion of the service I failed to capture because I accidentally pressed the button to stop recording without realizing it until that part of the ceremony was ending.

People were packed in there pretty tight; many people were left outside to peer in through the windows. I roughly estimated that there had to be at least 600 or so in attendance. I couldn’t help wonder why they don’t have 3 sessions (morning, afternoon, and evening) to more comfortably accommodate all the attendees. I’m sure there is a perfectly logical reason for not having multiple sessions, though I haven’t been able to think of it yet.

After the ceremony we went back to Marcia’s house, where we had dinner. Marcia had a great time taking pictures with my camera.

As it was her Primera Comunión and also birthday, I brought her a gift.

Earlier that day I had gone to a little boutique store owned by one of my friend’s Mom in search of a gift. Nothing jumped out at me, so I decided to let her pick out what she wanted. In America, the gift card is a cop out, an uncreative and lazy alternate to buying a gift, but in Paraguay it’s a new, exciting concept.

I explained the gift card concept to the shop owner. She caught on, and wrote the details on the back of a business card, and then enclosed it in a small, white envelope.

Marcia loved it! I had not only given her a gift, but I had given her something she had never received before. I gave her the opportunity to go shopping and pick out her own gift. She couldn’t wait to go pick out her presents, and she went around the party showing everyone what she had received.

This is one situation where growing up within America’s consumer culture came in handy!

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