What's the Difference Between a Christening and a Baby Dedication?
What's the difference between a Christening and a baby dedication? If you've ever been invited to such an event you will understand that it can be easy to confuse what is actually meant by the different rituals and traditions around naming and baptizing a baby.
A Christening involves baptism, the first of a number of sacraments in life within the Roman Catholic tradition. Baptism is a part of many Christian denominations, including Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist. Baptism is a water purification ceremony, so at Christenings you will see a small amount of holy water from the baptismal font, poured by the priest or minister over the infant's head. During a christening the child enters the Christian faith and his or her parents and possible godparents, vow to raise the child in the faith they have chosen.
A baby dedication on the other hand is a ceremony where the child's parents dedicate their child to God. They may make a statement showing they intend to raise the child according to a particular faith or denomination - however there may not be any form of baptism as part of the service.
Historically speaking even a Christening and Baptism were once two different things. A Christening referred to the child being given a Christian name while a baptism was usually held for older children or adults and involved fully submersing the body in water. Today both terms are used interchangeably and of course variations exist across different faiths. To avoid any confusion, if you are attending a ceremony and are preparing gifts or a card, use the term used by the parents.
Christening outfits for children, which can also be appropriate for baby dedications, are usually white, symbolizing purity and innocence. Christening and baby dedication outfits come in a variety of styles and fabrics, with pricing options ranging from the budget-conscious to bridal quality. Traditionally the infant, regardless of gender, is dressed in a gown style garment, or christening dress, which can be changed after the ceremony for something more practical. Christening dress fabrics may range from cotton and linen to organza and bridal quality satin and may feature embroidery, pleats and smocking. The Christening outfit may also include a Christening blanket and blankets make popular gifts too.
Styles for a Christening dress can be modern or traditional. Important considerations include that whatever the style, the fabric used is a breathable natural fibre and is comfortable for the baby. Depending on the weather, a Christening dress may feature short sleeves or a jacket and bonnet for cooler temperatures.
Whether it's a Christening or a baby dedication, the event is certainly a special one in any family. It is a way for all involved in the child's life to welcome them into their community and to reinforce the extended family's commitment to upholding the spiritual values that are important to them. A beautiful Christening dress will add to the joy of this memorable occasion.
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