Greek Christening Etiquette FAQ

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The Christening is an important moment in the life of an Orthodox Christian. As a result, there are many traditions and rules of proper behavior that are associated with it. If you are invited to attend a Greek Orthodox Christening, you probably have questions. Here is some advice that will help you determine the ins and outs of gift giving, who pays for what, and becoming a godparent.

Greek Christening Etiquette – Frequently Asked Questions

Should I give a gift?

If you have been invited to a Greek Christening, you absolutely need to give a gift. Not only is it a gesture of good will, but also the Godparent and family are both going through an expense to share the day with you. Not bringing a gift is considered bad etiquette.


What kind of gift should I give?

There are several gifts that are appropriate to give at a Christening. One of the most popular is to give money. Families often start a savings account and use the Christening gifts as a way to start the savings. Other appropriate gifts include baby related gifts like clothes and toys (if the person getting Christened is an infant) and religious gifts such as icons and crosses.

Who organizes the Christening ceremony?

Traditionally, it is the Godparent who is responsible for organizing the ceremony. This includes reserving the church, tipping the priest, and paying for all items the priest needs to execute the ceremony. It is also a tradition for the godparent to buy the infant a special cross to wear during the ceremony and throughout his or her life.

Who organizes the reception?

Typically, it is up to the parents to organize and pay for the reception, but this is up for debate. Families often split the costs with the Godparent or they will volunteer to pay for the whole Christening reception for the whole family for the family. No matter what happens, it is a good idea for the parents and the godparent to determine who will pay for the reception before making any arrangements.

Who chooses the Godparent?

It is up to the parents to choose a Godparent for the infant being baptized. Usually, the parents present their choice to the priest who will then determine if the potential godparent meets the criteria. Essentially, the Godparent needs to be an Orthodox Christian in good standing, which does include several factors. Check with your priest to determine what these factors are.

Can the potential Godparent turn it down?

The Godparent is basically charged with the task of being a Christian role model to the new Christian. If the godparent doesn’t feel like he or she can successfully perform this duty, it may be best to turn it down. Becoming a godparent is a personal decision and if the individual doesn’t feel up to the task, it is best to turn it down so the family can find someone who is willing to take on such an important responsibility.

Even for Greek Orthodox Christians, the traditions and expectations surrounding Greek Christenings can be confusing. Hopefully, some of your questions were answered.

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