A Christening or Baptism is a religious service where the child is introduced into the Church. In Christianity, Baptisms or Christenings are the universal initiation rite involving the pouring of water over the head of the child. For many parents, the practice is a way to instill some basic principles and values based on religious teachings in their children. Thus, it is usually an important occasion for the family and close friends and a celebration typically follows afterwards.
The actual Christening or Baptism typically occur at the end of a regular church service. Since relatives and friends may be joining the service, it is common to have a party afterward in the afternoon or evening after church.
There is no particular recommendation on a specific age range when a child needs to be baptized. (In many cases, adults who find religion later in life can get baptized.) Usually the timing is a decision that is made by the parents based on the role they want religion to play in the child's life. For many families, it is not uncommon for siblings to be christened at the same time.
Parents should contact their church to plan for the occasion. Some churches set aside specific dates for Baptisms and Christenings and usually require the child and parent to register. It is also a good idea to meet with the Pastor or Priest before the service.
Godparents play an important role as the spiritual adviser of a child through his or her life. They are chosen from among close friends or relatives of the baby's parents. They are usually of the same religion as the parents. The traditional role of a Godparent is to ensure that the child is educated in his or her religion and confirmed when the time comes. In practice, Godparents take a special interest in the child as they grow up, sharing in graduations and birthdays. At the Baptism or Christening, Godparents usually present the child with a keepsake present.
The child should wear a nice white outfit. A bib and blanket are nice additions for the ceremony. If the child will be fully immersed in water, be sure to have a towel for the child. Adults and children attending the christening, whether at home or in church, dress as for church.
Who to Invite
The guest list depends on the type of occasion you want to have for your child. You can have a smaller event with just family, close friends and Godparents, or you can invite a lot of friends and turn it into a large party. A good idea is to invite friends and family who you have a high regard for and that you think can play a strong and positive role in your child's life.
A high quality printed invitation can really convey the importance of the occasion for your child's Baptism or Christening. The child's god-parents will appreciate the care and effort you invest in sending them a classy and sophisticated invitation. They will immediately know that you want them to take a serious and real interest in your child's life, especially his or her spiritual growth. Invitations should be mailed a month before the event to ensure that family and friends can attend. Since some guests will probably travel a long distance to attend a Baptism or Christening, you should include information for out-of-town guests (e.g., hotels, directions.) in the invitation.
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