In Judaism, this is the second and last rite of passage, occurring some number of years (depending on the synagogue you attend) after the grand bar mitzvah. In my synagogue (temple, for you goys), it occurs at 17.

I am pretty sure that this is a relatively modern invention. It is basically a graduation from the studies of youth, otherwise known as hebrew school or sunday school. Those reaching confirmation have usually continued their judaic education of their own volition, and thus make up a significantly smaller group than that of the bar mitzvah class.

Con`fir*ma"tion (?), n. [F. confirmation, L. confirmatio.]

1.

The act of confirming or strengthening; the act of establishing, ratifying, or sanctioning; as, the confirmation of an appointment.

Their blood is shed In confirmation of the noblest claim. Cowper.

2.

That which confirms; that which gives new strength or assurance; as to a statement or belief; additional evidence; proof; convincing testimony.

Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ. Shak.

3. Eccl.

A rite supplemental to baptism, by which a person is admitted, through the laying on of the hands of a bishop, to the full privileges of the church, as in the Roman Catholic, the Episcopal Church, etc.

This ordinance is called confirmation, because they who duly receive it are confirmed or strengthened for the fulfillment of their Christian duties, by the grace therein bestowed upon them. Hook.

4. Law

A conveyance by which a voidable estate is made sure and not voliable, or by which a particular estate is increased; a contract, express or implied, by which a person makes that firm and binding which was before voidable.

 

© Webster 1913.

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