The meaning of the ceremony
A Christening (which is the Church of England name for a baptism) is a time when a person is welcomed into the Christian church. It is not a naming ceremony. The formal naming of a child comes when you register their birth at the Register Office. The name of the child is used repeatedly throughout the service and maybe because of this, the occasion has been connected in many people's heads with naming.
The service can either be held as a private ceremony or as part of a normal church service. In recent years families in my village have been encouraged to have their Christenings as part of a normal service as it allows the Church family, not just the immediate family to welcome the child into the faith.
At a Christening or Baptism the parents take an oath to guide their child through a Christian life. The parents will also have chosen some Godparents who they think will aid them in this task. These Godparents should themselves have been baptised, although it is not necessary for the parents to have been. It has been usual for a boy to have two male Godparents and one female Godparent, whilst a girl would have two female Godparents and one male Godparent. How the Godparents are chosen seems to have varied over time. Some people choose family members, others choose friends. Many people choose a younger relation who is just beginning their adult life. I have noticed a trend amongst friends of inviting a couple to become Godparents to a child. I have also noticed, that as society becomes more multi-cultural, people are choosing honorary Godparents who are close friends but not Christians. People have often chosen friends who the don't believe will end up having children of their own as well - maybe because they think their child will get more attention that way!
|Personalised name pillows make wonderful Christening gifts|
Traditional Christening gifts have come with connotations of investment in a child's future. So, money and items made of silver have always been very popular. Also, things that would have long-lasting intrinsic value. Some of the things that I received for my Christening and that I still own include a silver goblet, a silver spoon, a crystal dish and a bible. In more recent times Christening gifts have become more diverse. Toys, decorations for the nursery and personalised goods are particularly popular.
It is usual for the parents to give some kind of hospitality after the Christening service. The kind of hospitality you give will depend on the time of day of the service, the number of guests you have and your budget. Christening cake is a tradition. In years gone by, when the first child arrived nine or so months after the wedding day, the Christening cake was a layer of the traditional wedding cake that had been set aside. Modern trends - in sponge wedding cakes and when people choose to start a family have put an end to this.
The Church of England provides some interesting and useful information here, about what a Christening means, who can be Christened and how to organise it. Debrett's also provide some useful information on the etiquette of Christenings here.
You can see more about Christenings from gift ideas to gowns on my Pinterest board.
The last thing I'd like to say is - Happy Christening Day Prince George!
What is your experience of Christenings or secular naming ceremonies or ceremonies in other faiths or churches? I'd love to hear your thoughts....