Why do Christening Traditions
Mean So Much?
Most cultures have rituals to welcome children into the world.
Christening traditions go beyond that...
Regardless of your denomination, even in Pagan rituals similar to christening, this special day gives you and your loved ones the opportunity to welcome your child into the family, the church, the community and the world.
Another part of christening traditions that spans many denominations is that the ceremony is a formal blessing of the child by the Church. This part of christening traditions is rooted in the scriptures:
When children were brought before Jesus,
"...he took the children in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them..."
So the christening is a public acknowledgement that the child has received God's unconditional love. That is not to say, of course, that God does not love the child unconditionally prior to the christening ceremony. Rather, it is a formal acknowledgement of the unconditional love God has for all of us.
Christening is also a chance to formally and publicly join your friends, family and church in thanking God for the gift of your child's birth and life, followed by celebration and rejoicing for that life (and oh, how the Irish know how to celebrate life, don't ya' know!)
In Irish-Catholic christening traditions, the purpose of the ritual is to officially declare that the child is a follower of Jesus Christ. This particular service's premise is somewhat controversial since many argue that only an act of conscious, free will can make someone a true follower of Jesus Christ, which is impossible for an infant to do.
This is most commonly found in Baptist churches, this service marks the parents' public vow to give the child a Christian upbringing. It gives the parents the opportunity to publicly vow that they will teach the child to live according to the Christian faith. Even outside of Baptist rituals, though, this is implicitly part of the spirit of the ceremony, regardless of denomination.
One of the most symbolic elements of the christening ritual is when the baby has water sprinkled on the head. Catholics believe that by doing this, the child is reborn through the power of the Holy Spirit, cleansed of the stain Original Sin, and reborn through Christ's death and resurrection.
Most people raised in cultures in which Christianity is a dominant faith are familiar with the Doctrine of Original Sin. Personally, I believe we are never more pure of heart and soul than when we are first introduced into this world. I believe it is only after years of living in this fallen world that we become more "sinful", just in order to adapt.
Nevertheless, the Doctrine of Original Sin is a very significant pillar of many Christian denominations, so this part of christening traditions remains an important part of the ceremony.
A very important part of christening traditions is that tis is when the child is officially given a name and presented to God, the Church, and the community. In the past, godmothers and clergy had to be sure they were pronouncing the name correctly. Otherwise, the child meant to be named "Miriam" would be called "Mary Ann" for the rest of her life!
One way to honor the child's Irish heritage is to give the child an Irish baby name. You may find the perfect name by tracing your own family tree.
Or perhaps you would prefer to give your child the name of an important character in Irish literature or Celtic mythology. Or you could give your baby the name of someone who had an impact on Irish history - such as Michael (as in Michael Collins) or Brigid (as in St. Brigid).
Return to the TOP of the page
The Origins of Christening traditions
Go FROM the Symbolism of Christening Traditions
TO Fantasy Ireland's Christening Guide
Return to the Fantasy Ireland Homepage