5 Fast Facts About a Christening Ceremony

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Whether you plan to hold a christening or attend one as a guest, some aspects aren’t common knowledge. In this blog, you’ll gain a foundation of understanding to appreciate its significance. Then, you’ll enjoy the ceremony even more! Here are five less-known facts concerning this beautiful rite.

1. A baptism isn’t the same as a christening.

Baptism
Baptism is a ritual that predates Christianity, with its roots in Greek culture. Originally, it was a purification custom using water. Although Christian baptism incorporates this symbolism, the ceremony achieves a larger purpose, welcoming a child into the Christian faith.

Baptism is a sacrament, a rite that bestows God’s blessings. The practice invokes the power of three aspects of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some churches bless the baby with a sprinkling of water while others pour it over the head. Water symbolizes cleansing from sin.

People are usually baptized as infants. However, the initiation can be deferred until a child is older and able to comprehend its meaning. A person can also be baptized as an adult.

Christening
Christening dates back to the 14th century as a custom for naming a child. It originated from English culture and doesn’t necessarily include baptism.

2. Families hold christenings for various reasons.

In addition to a spiritual consecration, the event can serve different purposes. Some parents hold the ceremony to thank God for the safe birth of their child. Other parents have a christening to gather family and celebrate their child’s arrival. They may have an heirloom gown for their child to wear, passed down through generations. If you wish to enroll your child at a Christian school, a baptism is requisite.

Some non-religious parents host the event as a naming ceremony or “baby blessing.” This type of ritual can meld spiritual elements without conformance to church rules. A baby blessing can be performed by an ordained interfaith minister and include a baptismal rite. Here you can read about two families who opted to have a baby blessing.

3. Choosing a christening gown involves several considerations. 

If you don’t have an heirloom gown, you can buy a garment at a department store or vintage clothing shop. Do you have a family member who’s skilled at sewing? If so, ask them if they’d like to make the garment. A sentimental fabric option is a mother’s wedding dress. Alternatively, a former christening gown can be refashioned.

Color
For baptism, the sacrament requires formal attire. Whether your child is a boy or girl, the traditional garb is a white gown, representing purity and innocence. However, a modern trend is to add a hint of color to the gown, such as light blue, green, or yellow.

Fabric
Choose material in which the baby can breathe and move freely. The best fabric for this purpose is Baptiste cotton since it’s airy and light. Frequently used for boys is gabardine. Other options are satin, silk, organza, and tricot.

Keep in mind the season during which the ceremony will occur. Choose long sleeves for a cold climate. Even during summer, churches can be chilly, so make sure Baby is dressed appropriately. Ensure warmth with a christening sweater, baptismal blanket, bonnet, or thick booties.

Fit
Precious & Few said, “To promote a tear-free ceremony, choose a gown that’s easy to put on and remove.” It should facilitate quick diaper changes. Bulky tulle or complicated bloomers will only create stress for you and Baby. For the same reason, avoid difficult buttons, stiff arm seams, and narrow necklines.

Accessories
Your sweet pea’s outfit will be all the more adorable with a headband, bonnet, dainty socks, or even simple jewelry. Frequently worn are silver and pearl bracelets. Embellish Baby’s ensemble with shiny buttons or satin ribbon. For a boy’s christening gown, you might add a bow tie.

An embroidered cross is common on socks. A boy’s shoes are traditionally gabardine while a girl’s are organza or satin. Be prepared for an accident with a spare gown. Also, bring along a casual garment for Baby to wear after the ceremony.

4. Christian denominations vary on the number of godparents you can choose.

Catholics
In the Catholic faith, two godparents can be designated, a woman and a man. A godparent’s role is to exemplify the Christian life and aid the baptized child in developing their personal faith. To qualify, a person must be at least age 16 and a practicing Catholic. They needn’t be married.

Non-Catholic Christians
For other Christian denominations, the tradition has been for girls to have two godmothers and one godfather. Boys typically have two godfathers and one godmother. Godparents are required to be baptized, though not necessarily married.

Non-Religious Parents
Parents without a religious affiliation can choose any number of godparents.

Legal Guardianship
Many people are under the impression that a godparent becomes the child’s legal guardian in the event of parental death. However, this isn’t true. If a godparent consents to this responsibility, the provision must be stipulated in a parent’s Will.

Godparent Traditions
Gifts can be religious, practical, or sentimental. Customarily, a godmother buys the baby a silver gift, such as a spoon, bracelet, or keepsake box. It’s also common to offer a cross. Practical presents include baby blankets, pillows, and outfits, embroidered with the child’s name. Especially cherished is a teddy bear.

Parents appreciate picture frames, children’s religious books, and figurines. An engraved gift should feature the baby’s name and can include a personal message. These gifts are also appropriate for guests to offer.

Regarding a monetary gift, godfathers who can afford one typically give $100 or $150. Frequently, they open a savings account for the child, adding money to it annually.

Other practical options are an investment certificate or savings bond. A Series EE bond doubles in value over a period of 20 years and earns interest for 30 years. These bonds are no longer issued in paper form but can be obtained in electronic form online from TreasuryDirect.

To conclude the christening service, the godparent delivers the baby into the arms of the child’s mother. She, in turn, kisses the godparent’s hand, an expression of respect and gratitude.

5. A church christening service is free, but parents should tip the officiant.

By giving a tip, parents acknowledge the priest or minister’s time and effort. It also helps fund the cost of the ceremony by the church. The amount typically ranges from $25 to $100.

A higher gift is appropriate when a baptism is private or the officiant has taken extra time to prepare. A lesser amount is acceptable when more than one baby is baptized in a service. If the parents are unsure of how much to give, they can call the church and speak with the secretary.

The offering should be given after the ceremony, presented in an envelope addressed to the officiant. If the priest or minister has traveled from another parish, their transportation expenses should also be paid. The parents’ offering will likely go to the church and the officiant won’t be compensated for travel costs. Therefore, travel reimbursement is especially valued.

Bring Tissues!
Now you know the distinguishing features of a christening and baptism. You understand the various reasons for holding a ceremony. You can assist with choosing a christening gown and have some great gift ideas. You’re savvy on tipping etiquette for a baptism officiant.

Whether you attend an event that includes a baptism or not, be sure to bring tissues and a camera. A christening is a precious, momentous event!