Over 10,000 christenings per month take place within Church of England churches. Around 7,000 of those a month are babies under a year old, and around 3,000 are aged between 1 and 12 years old.
All churches welcome christenings and are happy to baptise new youngsters.
Here 10 interesting facts about christenings
1. Is there a difference between a christening and a baptism?
The answer is no. There is no difference. Babies get ‘baptised’ during the ‘christening’. This is similar to couples getting ‘married’ at a ‘wedding’. The terminology can be confusing because people refer to baptisms gifts and christening gifts, and they sound like they may be different events.
The meaning of the word christening means becoming a Christian church member. Whilst baptism means to be immersed in water.
A baby or child is baptised with water when they are christened and become a member of the church.
2. What is the purpose of the baptism?
A baptism is said to signify the start of a child’s journey with God. This journey continues throughout their life and is a way of remembering that the child is loved by God and is a part of the church community. It also marks a celebration. It is a time when all the family and friends come together.
3. What happens during the christening service?
During the service, water will be blessed by the vicar and poured gently onto the baby’s head. The mark of the cross will be signed on their head. An oil may be used to do this and a special candle may be lit and given to one of the Godparents to hold.
The parents and Godparents make some promises on the baby’s behalf and prayers are said for the baby and family. The service will usually include some readings and some hymns.
4. Does the christening give the baby’s name?
The official baby’s name is given by you when you register their birth. This name will be used during the baptism when the water is poured over the head.
5. Is anyone allowed a christening?
All babies, children and their families are welcomed by the church. It is not essential be married to have your child christened and you also do not have to be someone who goes to church often, nor have been christened yourself as parents.
Certain churches do insist that you live with the local area however, due to the popularity of christenings. If they christened babies and children from afar, there may not be space for the local children.
6. Are there any costs involved with a christening?
The christening service itself is completely free. However if you plan to have a party and food afterwards there will be costs. There can also be costs involved for any christening invitations you send, and of course a dress or outfit. It is possible to keep costs very low the more simple you make the occasion.
7. Where can I have my christening?
Usually a christening is carried out at your local church. If you want it to take place at a special church where you were married, or where you grew up, you would need to arrange to speak to the vicar there to assess availability. The chances are they will be happy to have you.
8. Is there an age limit to have a christening?
There is absolutely no age limit and you can have your baby or child christened at any time. After the age of seven however, the child will be expected to be able to make the promises to God themselves.
9. When can I have a christening?
Very often christening services take part within the main Sunday service of the church. Some churches do christenings at a separate time such as on the Sunday afternoon. The vicar will be able to advise of times.
10. What about the Godparents?
You can have as many Godparents are you like contrary to popular belief, and they don’t have to be married. It is traditional for boys to have two Godfathers and one Godmother, and for girls to have two Godmothers and one Godfather. The choice is entirely yours. Godparents do have to have been baptised themselves though.
The Godparents you choose should be people who you think will be there for your child, help them when they need it and be of an age to take part in the service.
11. How do I book a christening?
You will need to go along to your local church to see the vicar, give them a call or check out their website for how to arrange your day.