Baby at a ChristeningIn many Christian sects, christening is one of the first significant events in someone’s life. While christenings are typically held when the person is an infant, they’re ceremonies infused with meaning for both the individual and the community at large. Receiving an invitation means that the child’s family wishes to share this happy occasion with you, so it’s wise to observe some important etiquette practices both before and at the event.

What Is a Christening?

In many denominations, christening serves as a combined baptism and naming ceremony. The child is baptized before an assembly, usually by a priest sprinkling water on his or her forehead. The infant is also given a Christian name and publicly dedicated to the faith in question. Several branches of Christianity observe this practice:

  • The Roman Catholic Church
  • Eastern Orthodox churches
  • The Church of England
  • Lutheran churches
  • The United Methodist Church
  • Presbyterian churches

Depending on the Christian denomination to which a child’s parents belong, he or she may pursue later religious rites of passage such as confirmation, a process by which the person affirms his or her faith and is admitted as a full member of the church.

What To Expect at the Ceremony

Christenings are usually scheduled during normal worship services in most Christian sects. The Church of England’s website shows a sample order of services, which usually begin with a greeting and introduction followed by hymns, scripture readings, and a sermon or homily. A baptism or christening usually occurs after the sermon or homily, which is then followed by a communion rite and a blessing before the congregation is dismissed.

If you’re already familiar with Christian worship, you’ll just need to remember that the christening will take place during the middle portion of the service. A short reception in the church’s fellowship hall may be held after the christening. This may feature a sit-down meal or some small refreshments such as tea, coffee, cookies, and punch.

Basic Christening Etiquette

The Spruce writer Debby Mayne discusses christening etiquette for guests. You may have received an invitation with instructions to RVSP, so your prompt response is respectful to the host family and helps them and their church get an idea of how many attendees to expect. You’ll want to follow standard etiquette protocols for a house of worship:

  • Arrive before the service starts.
  • Silence or turn off your
  • Avoid chatter during services.
  • Stand up or sit down along with other congregants.

Mayne also explains that it’s wise to dress conservatively; option for suits, dress trousers and blazers, or skirts and dresses with hems that fall at or below the knee. However, some houses of worship may observe a more casual dress code, so ask your host for details if you’re uncertain of what to wear.

What Kind of Gift Should I Give?

In the same article, Mayne describes the types of gifts that are appropriate for a newly christened baby. Bibles are a very popular choice, but you may want to speak with the parents and confirm that they haven’t already received one for their child. Prayer and catechism books are other great options, and engraved silver items such as photo frames or spoons can also make lovely gifts. Unlike weddings in which it’s now standard practice to ship your items to the recipients’ homes, it’s perfectly fine to bring the child’s present to the worship service itself.

A christening is a monumental event in a child’s life. As a guest invited to this celebration, you can easily follow some good etiquette practices. Be sure to respond promptly to the invitation, arrive early, respect the worship house’s practices, and select an appropriate gift. These actions will endear you to your hosts and help you enjoy participating in this joyous occasion.

Category: Ceremonies Church

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