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Italian christening traditions

Updated July 19, 2017

Christening newborn babies in Italy is one of the country's most cherished traditions. The word baptism (battesimo) is derived from the Greek word "baptisma," which means "immersion." While the actual baptism is a short affair, the day of baptism involves a variety of celebration and traditions.

Dress

The baby is dressed in a long, white gown with a blue (for boys) or pink (for girls) ribbon.

On the way to the church

The person who brings the baby to the baptism carries a boy in the right arm or a girl in the left arm. Whoever is carrying the baby must never look back, thus ensuring that the baby will not grow up to be fearful and, instead, will be strong and courageous.

Mass

A christening mass is performed (usually with more than one baby to be baptised), where the infant or infant is blessed with holy water. Parents, relatives, the chosen godmother and godfather and friends are present.

Leaving the church

When leaving the church, the godmother and godfather throw sugared almonds (called "confetti" in Italy) toward the crowd that awaits outside.

The ribbon

The ribbon worn by the baby is hung at his or her door after the ceremony.

Celebration

A celebration meal or party is thrown after the baptism. Italian appetizers, cake and champagne are usually served. The sugared almonds (blue for boy and pink for girl) are often offered as party favours to all guests.

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About the Author

Sheila Smith is a copy editor and writer with more than nine years of experience editing and writing for international media syndicate Tribune Media. Additional clients have included Times Union and Edgenuity. She has been involved with several nonprofit organizations, provided etiquette instruction for cultural and religious events and has experience in event planning.