This picture was taken at my First Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic south of the Netherlands, where Catholicism has become more like tradition than religion (although one can ask whether religion is not always more like tradition than anything else).
The style of dress in this picture is quite representational of what I remember most about this ritual. Girls got dressed up in the most outrageous princess-like dresses and boys looked like forgotten side-kicks in their little monkey suits. Only later did I see that the girls were really dressed up as brides of God, and the boys, I don’t know what to make of. This cultus of female dress, as is also visible in the historic Dutch attire that is now on view at the Zuiderzee Museum exhibition “Gone with the Wind”, is a jumble of mixed messages of virginity and seductiveness, sobriety and decoration, even in children’s holy rituals.