What is a Christening?
So you’ve been invited to a Christening, you’ve been to a few Baptisms in the past but never a Christening. Are they the same thing? Do you have to do anything differently?
To save any embarrassing mishaps we’ve put together a guide that will explain the differences.
Christening vs Baptism
There is much confusion around the words christening and baptism. However, both words are used to describe the same occasion – a religious event to mark the ‘membership’ into the Christian Church. Some people use the word christening for young children but this isn’t set in stone, therefore either word can be used.
the words christening and baptism are used interchangeably and refer to the same event – being welcomed into the Christian faith
The word baptism is derived from the Greek word baptismos meaning washing. In Christianity, the tradition of a baptism is traced back to Jesus being baptised in the river Jordan. Water is symbolic in baptisms – of washing away sins and welcoming a new life in the presence of God. This is one reason many people do not always agree with christenings as they don’t believe a child has ‘sin’ to be washed away.
However, the overall meaning at a christening is one where God is thanked for his gift of life and the child is welcomed into the Christian faith. In addition, the parents and godparents agree to help guide the child with their religious beliefs and practices.
A Christening is seen by some as a lawful naming ceremony but it has no lawful basis. A child’s name is only lawful when registered on a birth certificate at a register office.
For more details about “What is a Christening?” here’s a useful link supplied by the Church of England.
“You can always ask for a blessing/thanksgiving service for the child or if you do not want the occasion to be a religious ceremony.”
Baptisms in the Church of England in 2016
Of Baptism’s are aged between 1 and 12
People are having more than the usual 3 or 4 Godparents
Looking For That Special Christening Gift?
Should I get my baby Christened?
Having looked at what it all means, this is a question only you can answer. For some it’s a fairly straight forward decision due to their religious beliefs. For others who may not have a strong faith the decision may be a more difficult one.
Furthermore, many parents feel they should let their child decide whether they want to practice a certain religion. As such they feel they ought to wait until the child is old enough and can make such a decision and commitment themselves. In contrast, others see a christening as a family tradition and something which ‘ought to be done’ to celebrate and commemorate their new arrival.
The motivation for some parents to have their child christened is to open the doors to a wider range of schools
For others, the motivation in having their child christened is to open the doors to a wider range of schools for the future as being christened is often a pre-requisite for faith schools. Whatever the reason, a christening can be a special one-off occasion which brings families and friends together.
What are the next steps?
Once you’ve decided whether to have your baby baptised, the next step is to organise the event. The next major decision is godparents. Who should I choose? How many do I have? This is a whole new topic so take a look at our handy tips on ‘Choosing Godparents‘.
I hope this guide to “what is a Christening” has been useful and that your Christening is a spectacular success.