Christenings have always been a traditional way of welcoming your child to the world, but there are also other ways of celebrating your child’s arrival. We thought we’d help you decide what suits you and your family. by bringing you some useful information on the three most popular celebrations.
More than 10,000 Christenings are performed each year and 7,000 of those are for babies under 1 year old. A Christening (or more formally, a Baptism) is a Christian religious ceremony which usually takes after a typical Sunday service and can be held at your local church for free. If you’d prefer to hold your child’s Christening at a church in another parish, such as where you got married or the parish you grew up in, you need to ask the permission of the vicar. During the ceremony, the vicar will welcome your family and friends to the service and your child will be baptised with blessed water; the vicar with sign the cross on their forehead. Your role as parents is to make promises on behalf of your child, that they will believe in God and repent their sins. The Church recommends choosing at least three Godparents, people you trust to support and guide your child through life. Two of these people should be the same sex as your child.
Prayers are offered for your child and yourselves and you can usually request hymns and readings to be included. Everyone is welcome at your local church and you do not need to be married or Christened yourselves in order to have a service for your child, nor do you necessarily need to be regular Church-goers. Your child can be Christened at any age, but after around 7 years of age, children can usually make the promises for themselves. It’s traditional for the baby or child to wear a Christening gown; a long white or cream outfit but many parents chose a more modern dress or shirt and trousers instead. A reception of some kind is usually held after the service, at home, a restaurant or a village hall.
A blessing is another Church service but it doesn’t require you as parents, or the child’s Godparents, to make any promises on their behalf. The service simply seeks to give thanks for the child’s safe arrival, to welcome the child into the Church community and gives them the option later in life to be baptised. A blessing can be a separate service to the main Sunday service and as with a Christening, all family and friends are welcome. As with a Christening, a reception is usually held afterwards.
There’s no religious connotations behind this kind of celebration, it is literally to welcome your child to the world and introduce them to all your loved ones. Usually hosted at your family home, you’ll need to consider catering arrangements. It can be as formal or informal as you like and instead of Godparents, you can appoint ‘supporting adults’ to support your child through life. This option is becoming more and more popular, particularly as it’s common for couples to have different opinions and this can be a lot less formal.
Whichever option you choose for you and your child, be sure to give plenty of notice to your guests, consider catering arrangements including a celebration cake and send thank you notes afterwards as many guests are likely to bring a gift.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other ways to celebrate your child’s arrival. The Ice the Cake network of suppliers can help you to create your perfect day.