Babies tug on the whole family’s heartstrings. From the moment our mom-to-be begins showing the little baby bulge to the moment the bundle of joy is born, our lives are dedicated to their growth and nurturing. In the first few years there are many important celebrations to prepare for, and one of the first for Christians is the baby’s Baptism or Christening.
We’ve been helping families with their Baptism and Christening invitations for the past 20 years, and would love to share what we have learned about the Baptism/Christening ceremony. First off, the terms “Baptism” and “Christening” refer to the same ceremony, and typically differ by denomination.
For Christians, Baptism is a blessing with water that washes away sins. The basis of this ritual is the belief that we are all born with original sin, stemming from when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. In addition to washing away the baby’s original sin, Baptism represents a welcoming into the church and the baby taking full membership within the sacred community. Many families have a large gathering at the church and often an even larger reception afterwards celebrating the baby’s Baptism, seen as the beginning of your child’s relationship with God.
Depending on the denomination, some churches perform Baptisms on infants and babies, while other churches wait until the child is older and can make their own personal choices.
Traditionally you choose two Godparents that will stand with you during the ceremony. Often family members are chosen, but sometimes very close family friends are given the honor. To be a baby’s Godparent means you commit to be a guide for that child spiritually and sometimes physically if something happens to the parents.
The usual form of Baptism among the earliest Christians was for the individual to be immersed totally or partially in water, and then don white clothes as a symbol that their sins have been washed away. White is seen as a color of purity, cleanliness and innocence – this is the reason many parents dress their child in an all white gown. The christening gown is often times an heirloom piece passed down from generation to generation.
Many churches will perform the Baptism at the very beginning or very end of regular services, although you can usually schedule a special time upon request. During the Baptism ceremony, you and the baby’s Godparents will stand at the front of the church with the Priest, Pastor or Father. The Baptism ritual can differ depending on the church; your child may have water poured on them in a ritual called affusion, or they may be sprinkled with water in a practice called aspersion. Traditionally the Godparents will hold the baby while water is poured. During the moment of baptism, the Pastor says “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” to signify the Holy Trinity. This is a very special moment for your whole family and your baby.
Do you have any special traditions for baptism or christening in your family? Please share!!