Christening, also known as infant baptism, is one of the pivotal events that new parents who observe Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and certain protestant Christian belief systems look forward to. It is said to be part of a Christian tradition that dates back to a time before the birth of Jesus. Baptism symbolises salvation from original sin, which Catholics believe all infants are born in. Thus, infant baptism is a common practice.
The Christening Gown
During the child’s christening, he is usually dressed in a white garment called the christening robe or gown. Both males and females wear this type of garment. The christening gown is usually extremely long, and the length of the fabric extends beyond the feet of the child. This trail of excess fabric often features decorations of lace and other ornaments. In earlier times this trail symbolised the wealth and stature of the family. The christening gown is usually passed down from one child to the next.
A shawl is also a common garment to prepare on occasions such as these, as the child will likely get wet during the ceremony. A shawl will keep the child warm and relatively dry.
The godparents are responsible for serving as the child’s guides and mentors, especially when it comes to faith. There are certain things a parent must take into consideration before asking a person to be a godparent. For one, a godparent must have been initiated in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and first communion. In the Roman Catholic faith these requirements ensure that the godparent will be able to lead the child into a life of faith.
Also, the godparent must be at least 16 and in good moral standing in the church. Married godparents must have been wedded in a Catholic Church. While the church accepts one godparent, if there are two godparents, one must be male and the other female. Non-Catholic godparents are acceptable so long as there is another godparent who is a baptised Catholic. These are some of the things to consider when choosing a godparent, although the specifics can differ from one parish to the next.
Usually after the baptism ceremony a party or simple get-together takes place. Although a party is not a traditional part of the ceremony, it is usually the christened child’s parents’ way of thanking guests for coming to the event. The reception may take place in a venue near the church. The party is often a casual affair since other children are probably present and need a place to run around. The food is usually casual—often a buffet or a barbecue.