A christening is a symbolic celebration and statement that you intend to raise your child with Christian values and beliefs, with God as his overseer. The terms of christening and baptism overlap and are used interchangeably.
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Christening, or baptizing, of the entire family originated around the time of Christ. Before this, adults were baptized until the teachings of the Book of Acts, which encouraged whole families to be baptized together. As persecution in the church decreased and ceremonies were no longer performed secretly in homes, infant baptism grew to be a common public ceremony.
Churches are more liberal than they were in the past regarding whose baby they will baptize. Many churches will provide christening services to single-parent families, same-sex parent families and families with unmarried parents.
Traditionally, during a christening, water is poured over the top of a baby's head. If an adult is being christened or baptized, their entire body may be submerged in a baptizing pool called a baptismal. The water symbolizes being purified after being born into the sin of humankind.
Historically, christenings took place at the church to which the family belonged. You no longer have to be a member to have your baby baptized at most churches. Christenings can also take place in the home or outdoors.
Godparents are often a part of the christening celebration. Parents choose 2 to 4 close friends or family members who will assist in raising the child in the beliefs of the church. Godparents are no longer a required part of the ceremony, but it's suggested that parents have someone in mind in case they need help.