The Catholic Church passed a decree in September 2004 which extended the period of catechesis from two to three years. The extension, which means that the children take their first Communion at the age of ten rather than nine, arose as a result of a survey of a group of catechists (about 4,500 in the case of the province of Alicante). The results from the questionnaire showed that children needed the extended period because of difficulties in oral understanding and reading. The intention was that this change should be brought in by stages but only a hundred parishes decided to take this course.
As a result, between 8,000 and 9,000 children in the province will not take their first communion this spring . It is calculated that this will result in a loss of about 20 million euros of revenue.
Aside from the criticisms of parents who are concerned that their children won't want to wear the pretty dresses and sailor suits once they are ten, the delay has also brought criticism from the sectors of commerce directly related to these celebrations.
On average, a family will spend 3,000€ on the celebrations. It isn't just the restaurants ,who charge an average of 50€ per head for Communion meals, it's the photographers, guest houses, the shops that sell communion suits, dresses and gifts who will also suffer as a result of this extension.