Greek Orthodox Christening Traditions

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Christening Traditions So, you just had a baby. Now what? Once the infant is born, preparations should be made for his Christening. There are many traditions that surround the Christening ceremony in the Orthodox Church. Here is an overview of what needs to be done before the Christening.

Choose the Godparent
In the Greek Orthodox Church it is only a requirement to have one godparent who is an Orthodox Christian. It is possible, however, to have a second godparent who isn’t Orthodox (but they should be a Christian). The role of the godparent is to look after the child’s spiritual growth. For the first born, it is usually the koumbara or koumbaros who is selected. Talk with your priest to help make sure that you make the right choice.

Baptismal Name

It is technically the godparent’s responsibility to select the baptismal name for the child. In most cases, this name will be the same as the name the parents selected. However, it can be different from the name that is on the birth certificate. The godparent should discuss this with the parents.

Get the Paperwork

Yes, there is paperwork that you need to fill out in order to have your baby baptized. Check with your church to see what is truly needed. Typically, you will fill out a standard application for the baptism and you will need to show proof of your Orthodox marriage. Your chosen godparent will also need to produce paperwork such as his baptismal certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable).

Decide Who Pays

Christenings can be expensive. So who pays for what? Typically speaking, the godparent buys everything that is needed in the ceremony. This includes the cross, candles, towels, and outfit for the baby. The parents are typically responsible for the reception that follows the Christening.

Buying Gifts

Gift giving is a big tradition for an Orthodox Christening. The godparent should give a gift to the baby. All guests should give a gift to the infant, as well. It is also a nice touch if the parents give the godparent a gift to thank them for taking on such an important role in the child’s spiritual development.

Giving Tips

Is it typical to give the priest a tip after the Christening? Typically, giving a tip is the right thing to do. However, if you don’t wish to give the priest a tip, making a donation to the church is also appropriate. The cantor should also receive a tip. Talk with the godparent to determine who will pay the tip or make the donation. It can be either the parents or the godparent. Or, you can choose to split it.

Three Communions

After the baptism, it is a tradition for the godparents to take the child to communion three times. If the priest gave the baby communion during the baptism, the godparent needs to go to communion two other times. Each time, the original, larger candle from the ceremony is lit.

There are many traditions that are attached to the Greek Orthodox Christening. If you are unsure of what to do, ask your priest and he will guide you through the process.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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