A baptism is a joyous occasion that celebrates a person’s admission into the Christian religion. Many people choose to baptize their children at a young age and will usually invite only their closest friends and family. If you have been invited to attend a baptism for a child or older person, then you may feel anxious about what is expected of guests during the service. As with weddings, guests are expected to follow a certain etiquette while inside the church and during the reception. Receiving an invitation to a baptism is an extremely high honor, and as long as you observe a few simple rules, your presence and participation will make the occasion extra special for the person being baptized.
Although there is no obligation for guests to bring a gift to a baptism, the vast majority of people do purchase a small keepsake. There are many different options when it comes to christening gifts, and it is not necessary to purchase something expensive. Godparents traditionally give a sterling silver bracelet or other piece of jewelry that is engraved with the child’s name and the date of the baptism. Guests often give items such as silver crucifixes, silver baby rattles, picture frames, piggy banks or jewelry boxes. It is also perfectly acceptable to give money as a gift inside a card or envelope. Gifts are always given at the reception party after the baptism or sent directly to the person’s house before the ceremony.
As you will be attending a church for the ceremony, it is important to dress conservatively. Men typically wear suits or smart clothing, and women are expected to wear formal dresses or trouser suits. Never wear casual or trendy clothing as this can be seen as disrespectful to the family and the church. Women should avoid overly revealing clothing and heavy makeup and instead opt for an elegant, daytime look. Men must always be clean shaven or have a neat and tidy beard.
Immersing a person in water is an important part of the ceremony as it symbolizes rebirth and has been practiced in the Christian religion for centuries. Although immersing a person or child in water may seem strange or even humorous to those who are unfamiliar with it, immersion is actually a very solemn act that holds great meaning for the person being baptized. Guests are expected to behave as they would at a wedding by not speaking during the ceremony, turning off cell phones and not taking too many pictures.
People from all religions and backgrounds are more than welcome to attend a baptism, and it is not necessary to have any prior knowledge of the Christian religion. Guests are not expected to participate in the main part of the ceremony and only need to stand for hymns and sing along if they wish. As long as you are respectful of the ceremony and the church itself, then you will have a wonderful time supporting your friend or relative on their special day.
About Guest Contributor:
Susan Louis is an experienced church worker of many years. An avid writer, she likes to post her insights online. Her articles are available on a number of spiritual and family websites and blogs.