If your family practices one of the Christian denominations of faith, you may be considering a christening ceremony for your new baby. There are many ways to perform the christening ceremony, and you might wish to learn more about it before you perform the ceremony or find a clergyman to do it for you.
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Baby Christening Ceremony Basics
Most children are christened within the first year of their life, often within 2 to 6 months of age, although the Roman Catholic Church urges parents to consider baptism within the first few weeks. Children can also go through a christening ceremony when they're a few years of age if the parents prefer that approach. At the ceremony, the applicant may be given a new Christian name that will represent his dedication to the church; this will depend on your denomination.
If you're looking up information on the topic, you might be confused about the ceremony. In most religious traditions, baptism and christening refer to the same ceremony, but there are some subtle differences. Most of the time, a christening refers to the ceremony performed on an infant to dedicate him to the Christian God and to welcome him into the church. Baptism is the actual rite of admission that welcomes someone into the church by tradition.
At a christening, a baptism is performed on the baby. However, the baptism rite can be performed on adults as well if they are looking to convert their faith. The two terms diverged in the year 1377, when the word "baptism" was used in a translation of the Holy Bible.
What Is the Baptism or Christening Ceremony?
Baptism and christening ceremonies are usually given by the priest, pastor or officiator of the church the parents have chosen for the ceremony. A christening ceremony often moves through several steps. First, the pastor gives welcome to those who have come to witness the christening. Then, the pastor announces the reason the audience has gathered, saying a few words about the christening ceremony and its purpose.
The parents are invited to come forward with the child in question. Since most ceremonies are performed on babies, the mother usually holds the baby with her head facing the officiant. The pastor or an invited family member reads a Bible verse about christening. The parents are asked to repeat phrases confirming their dedication to the church and to their child. If there are godparents, they are then asked to repeat phrases confirming their commitment to the child.
The child is anointed using water on the child's forehead. This can be done by pouring a flagon over the baby's head or by tracing the cross with a wet finger on the baby's forehead. In some denominations, a candle is lit by a parent or godparent, representing the light of potential within the child and the light of Christ. The congregation follows as the officiant welcomes the baby into the community of the church.
How to Arrange a Christening Ceremony
To start, you'll have to set a date with your church leader and arrange the ceremony. You may want to choose a particular Bible passage to be read at the ceremony by a family member or friend, or you may invite your pastor to read a passage at the opening of the ceremony. You'll work out the details and go through all of the paperwork required to register your child within the church. In setting the date, it's assumed that you've chosen godparents for your child and have arranged for them and all important family members to be available on the date chosen.
To make sure your baby will be comfortable during the ceremony, you'll want to choose comfortable clothes for him to wear. These can be traditional but don't have to be. It's recommended that you bring a small toy or pacifier to keep your baby calm as the ceremony continues.