The History and Practice Related to Christening

Della Robbia Cradle Medal
Della Robbia Cradle Medal

As Christians our faith has a shared history with ancient Judaism. Many of Judaism’s Old Testament (OT) traditions have either carried directly over into Christianity or have taken on a New Testament (NT) look.

The Jewish celebration of Passover as a meal of remembrance has become for Christians the Lord’s Supper or the Communion table. The giving of tithes and offerings, the reading of scripture and singing spiritual songs and the weekly Sabbath are all shared rituals. Baptism, too, is a practice begun among God’s ancient people which is still a part of Christian worship.

The sacrament of baptism is sometimes referred to as Christening which literally translates as “bringing to Christ”. It is a day when the biological family and the church family together present the child to God and pledge to raise the child in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.

Godparents are special people in the parents’ lives who agree to share the responsibility for Christian training. For this reason, Godparents are a special part of the Christening tradition. The practice of appointing Godparents began in the early days of the church when persecution from outsiders was a real danger. The Godparents join the birth parents at the baptismal for this joyous and serious ritual.

Gowns and Bonnets
Very often babies wear a Christening gown for the occasion. The gowns are typically white which represents purity similar to the symbolism of a white wedding gown. Sometimes white bonnets are also worn. The clothing is traditionally, though certainly not always, a gift made by the Godparents.

A Special Christian Name
For Catholics, Christening usually includes bestowing a special name related to the faith. The names of saints, apostles and early Christians are popular. Sometimes gifts engraved or monogrammed with this new name are given in honor of the day.

Always, a baptism or Christening is cause for celebration. Many families host parties after the church service. The party may include an elaborate meal or it may serve up cake and punch, but some sort of festivity is called for. And whether the party is a family-only event or includes a large list of guests, gifts are usually part of the day.

Gifts to Celebrate
Traditional Christening (or baptism) gifts include jewelry, candles, a photo memory album, crucifix or a child’s first bible. Of course, there are many other wonderful gifts which communicate joy and faith. The Printery House carries a variety of gifts which would be appropriate for a Christening ceremony. Visit us online and see how easy it is to find the perfect gift with the click of a button. It may not be an ancient tradition, but it’s a new one worth developing.