Communion children want gel nails, spray tan and the Hummer
NIAMH HORAN SPRAY tans, gel nails, handmade suits from Louis Copeland and 34-foot Hummer limousines are top of the wish list for many children preparing for their First Holy Communion.
It's a world away from the old 'faith friends' meetings where children met their peers and parents to discuss spiritual preparations as they got ready to receive the sacrament.
Now, according to beauticians, many salons will be fully booked with children as young as seven getting spray tan and gel nails in anticipation of event.
Staff at the Be U Beauty Clinic in Kimmage, Dublin, say they have received calls from mothers who have wanted to book their children in for treatments at the salon because other places are full up.
"They are ringing us telling us other beauty salons are booked up in the run-up to the day. The kids are putting pressure on the mothers to get it done and there's obviously a lot of peer pressure there too," a spokeswoman said.
The salon says that despite the fact that they refuse to carry out tanning and gel nail treatments on young children on ethical grounds, they are still getting calls from parents pleading to book their children in for the treatments.
"This is my first year experiencing it. The most popular request would be for a spray tan and some are asking for gel nails too, which would be inappropriate for a young child," the spokeswoman explained.
She continued, "It's a bit sick to be honest. We tell them that it's not good for them at such a young age but they don't really care. We'd try and explain to the mothers that it's not good to put tan on children's skin but just they say 'oh but all their friends are getting it done, I don't see the problem.'"
When contacted, a number of salons in Dublin said they would take a booking for a child to get their spray tan and gel nails done but when informed that the caller was a journalist, they claimed they had never carried out such treatments on children.
One north Dublin mother said her daughter and many of her friends were looking forward to the beauty salon element of the big day.
She said she was investing in a number of beauty treatments for her eight-year-old daughter Shannon in the days leading up to the service.
"I'm bringing her to a beautician to get a spray tan and her nails done. There's a good few of her friends getting it done too. The treatments are only working out at ?60. But we're having a big house party and getting caterers in, so that should work out to be a bit more expensive."
Meanwhile school teachers and principals are urging parents to focus on the real meaning of the day.
Max Cannon, Principal at the Ballycragh national school in Tallaght says, "We are trying to bring the focus back to the sacrament and involve parents in the preparation in the run up to the Holy Communion.
"But it's inevitable, particularly with girls; that some people will lose the run of themselves. It's a mini big day out for young girls and there are commercial implications to it because parents want their kids to look their best.
"I know of certain cases where a hairdresser would be brought into the house on the morning of the communion. In every area you will come across people who will be done up to the nines, but the majority of parents are very sensible about it."
However, it's not just the girls who are going all out for the occasion; young boys are getting their parents to cash in on the excitement too.
Jayne O'Reilly runs O'Reilly's Hummers and she says the company's 34-foot long H2 Stretch Hummer (the biggest in the country) is fully booked out since last year for this year's First Holy Communion ceremonies.
"We do a kids' special at ?250 an hour to rent it out and they usually spend up to three hours driving around in it before heading off to the church."