Christening (sometimes called Baptism) is the ceremony that welcomes a new child into God's family in the Christian faith.
There are some rules of etiquette to follow with a Christening and we hope that this simple guide will help:
1. Make sure you and your baby are registered with the church where you would like to have your child christened
2. Go to see the vicar or priest and discuss your plans. You will be expected to follow the Christian faith and you may have to attend preparatory classes before the ceremony
3. Arrange the date of the Christening - this can vary according to the practices of the church concerned, and may be during regular services or separate. It is not uncommon for several children to be baptised during the same service
4. Services are not usually long, as celebrants recognise that young children are easily distracted and can become fractious
5. The choice of godparents is yours, but they are taking on a role of ensuring the spiritual wellbeing of the child, and as such some churches will want to know that the godparents are themselves practising christians. Most will insist that godparents are at least 16 years old
6. On the day of the ceremony itself, the role of the Godparent is to take part in the ceremony, and to take certain vows on behalf of the child for their future. The Godparents may also be asked to hold the child at certain times, but this is usually at the discretion of the parents
Dressing the Child for Baptism
7. There are no hard and fast rules as to what clothes a child should wear for their Christening, but it is wise to ensure that a change of outer garments at least is available as the child's clothes may get wet during the ceremony.
Attendees at the Christening
8. This is entirely at the choice of the parents, and will always include the Godparents, but will often include family and friends as well. The number of guests is clearly at the discretion of the parents.
9. It is normal for an afternoon tea to follow a christening, and it is normal to invite all the guests invited to the ceremony, and frequently the vicar or priest is invited, although particularly in cases where several baptisms are taking place at once, attendance varies! It is entirely at your discretion as to what food and drink is served, but it's difficult to beat a traditional afternoon tea with scones and cream, cakes and sandwiches! Read our guide "Preparing Your Christening Tea".
Whilst gifts are frequently bought for a child at their Christening, they are not compulsory or expected in most cases, and there is always the danger of duplication in the case of a large number of guests, so it is often best to consult with the parents before making a purchase. However, there are a large number of traditional and less formal gifts that are available for Christenings and so should you wish to buy a Christening Gift it shouldn't be too difficult to find something appropriate.
The ceremony is also sometimes called Baptism, a term derived from the Greek word meaning to immerse. The Baptism or Christening ceremony itself originates from the work of John the Baptist, who brought people into the faith by washing them (symbolising the cleansing of their soul). Today's Christian churches differ in the type of ceremony they perform, some of them retaining the immersion of the child, and some just pouring water over the baby's head.Back to guides