Baptism and christening are words often used interchangeably, usually depending on the denomination of the parents. No matter what label the ceremony is given, the purpose is usually the same: to bless and welcome the baby into Christianity witnessed by his or her Christian family.
Purpose of a Christening
A christening, traditionally, was simply a naming ceremony, whereby the baby was publicly named and presented; originally, water was not involved. However, a christening, while usually associated with the Christian religion, does not have to be a religious ceremony. If the parents desire a public celebration of their baby’s birth but don’t want religious overtones, they may hire a non-religious official to conduct a naming ceremony, where the baby will be presented to friends and family, and the parents can promise to care for and protect the baby.
Purpose of Baptism
Baptism is one of two holy sacraments, the other being Communion, performed in the church and is always a religious ceremony. Although there are certain denominations that reject infant baptism, such as Baptists and Mennonites, many denominations still practice it, such as Catholics and Lutherans. During baptism, the baby’s name is used to claim the baby for Christ and His Church, while the parents and godparents promise to raise the baby in a Christian home surrounded by worship, prayer and Bible study.
Unique Baptism Gift Ideas
Babies will not remember their baptism, so presenting gifts that also serve as keepsakes commemorating the occasion will ensure that the baby will grow up and treasure the experience. If there will be many family and friends at the baptism, it helps to create a registry to ensure that popular items aren’t duplicated. For instance, a special gift such as the baby’s first Bible is almost necessary to receive, but won’t be as memorable if it is one of many Bibles received. If you are given the green light to choose one, having the baby’s initials engraved on the cover with a special dedication page on the inside filled out will ensure that this Bible will be used and cherished for years to come.
Other gift ideas include framing the baptism certificate, if one is given, to hang in the baby’s room. A small cross necklace would also be a special gift and one that the baby won’t outgrow. You could even engrave the baptism date on the back of the cross.
Unique Christening Gift Ideas
Although a christening is often a baptism with an alternate name, there are differences in the ceremony depending upon the church in which it is held. If you want to deviate from the standard gifts, consider filling a shadowbox with various keepsakes from the christening ceremony. The actual christening gown, the christening announcement or invitation, and a photo of the baby in the christening gown with the parents could all combine to make a unique and special gift.
You could also present the baby with a locket containing her picture and engrave the christening date on the back or face of the locket. If the baby is a girl, you could give her a silver jewelry box engraved with her initials and christening date as a beautiful reminder of her special day.
As long as your gift is given in love with the event and child in mind, you will help ensure that this milestone will not be forgotten.