Christening Etiquette - Baby Christening Ceremony

"Our birth is nothing but our death begun, as tapers waste the moment they take fire."--Young.

The arrival of the stork with the new baby is an event of vast family interest, especially if it is the first visit of the bird to the domicile. In America it is not customary to announce a birth in the newspapers, as is often done in England, especially among the nobility. The personal friends of the parents receive the visiting card of both, or of the mother only, to which is attached a small card bearing the baby's full name and the date of his arrival. These are enclosed in an envelope, this again in an outer one, and mailed.
It is proper for those thus notified to call at an early date to in¬quire as to the well-being of mother and babe. As it is not customary for the mother to receive any but a very few of her nearest relatives under at least three weeks, callers should not be expected to see her, but are to leave cards. A note of congratulation is often sent instead of calling, and offers to the ingenious and witty an excellent chance for the display of delicate pleasantry. Thus it is entirely proper to ad¬dress the note to the baby, and congratulate him on having chosen such charming parents, and such a lovely home. Flowers are not infrequently sent to the mother, and little gifts--soft booties, little gold pins for sleeve and neck, little crocheted or knitted sacks, or dainty bibs--to the baby.

Christening Ceremony

The baby is usually christened when it is six or eight weeks old. Clergymen prefer this should be done at the church, and generally arrange to perform several baptisms at the same time--¬Children's Day being a favorite time. Otherwise, the christening usu¬ally takes place after the congregation is dismissed at the conclusion of a service. Only those interested and a few specially invited friends remain for it. There is no objection, however, to having a child christened at home, when the affair is made one of more festivity.
Most young married people prefer to have the clergyman who married them christen their first baby, when practicable.

Sponsors

The baby's sponsors are chosen, by the parents' agreement, from among their relatives and close friends, almost always those of their own communion. The request is preferred verbally or by personal notes. A boy has a godmother and two godfathers; a girl two godmothers and a godfather. Occasionally this rule is broken and a godmother alone chosen for a girl, and one godfather for a boy. Godparents are supposed to stand in a more intimate relation to their godchildren than to others, and to take a more personal interest in them, especially in case of the parents' death. It is a serious relation, involving a certain religious responsibility, and is not to be lightly entered into.
The godparents are expected to make christening gifts to the child on his baptismal day. They are usually in the form of silver cups, porringers, silver spoons, forks, etc.; these should be solid, never plated ware. If the babe is named for one of its godparents, the latter is expected to do something handsome in the way of a christening gift. Sometimes a bank account is opened in the child's name, the sum deposited being left at interest until he becomes of age.

Church Christenings

At a church christening, the babe is dressed in its handsomest robe and cap. Formerly the robes were very long and miracles of lace and embroidery; at present the finest of linen lawn or batiste, with a little real lace at neck and sleeves, and a bit of fine French embroidery, is thought in better taste, even in the case of the very wealthy. And many a blessed baby is given his name in a simple little lawn robe with no embellishment beyond a little tucking¬--done by the mother's own hands, perhaps.
The nurse carries the child into the church. Sponsors and parents group themselves around the font, which is often decorated with white flowers. The godmother has the privilege of holding the babe until it is time to lay him in the clergyman's arms, the cap having been removed. The parents make the responses; after the naming the godmother takes the little one again, holding him until the close of the service. She should not wipe away any of the water placed on the child's head. A good baby is expected not to cry during the ceremony, and one advantage of an early christening is that the little fellow is less liable to be alarmed at strange surroundings.
The same forms are observed at a home christening, the hour being usually in the afternoon.
A luncheon to which the clergyman and the christening party, and a few friends if desired, are invited, customarily follows the church ceremony--unless several children of other families are baptized at the same time--and always follows the home christening. It is not unusual to make some recognition of a clergyman's services at a church christening, and always is in order at the home rite, though it is not expected as a clergyman counts on his wedding fee.
If church or house is decorated for a christening, white flowers only are employed, in conjunction with palms and ferns to relieve them. White lilies are particularly beautiful. The table is adorned with white flowers; the cakes and bonbons are white. Any desired refreshments may be served, those for afternoon tea being suitable. That old-fashioned beverage known as caudle is never served at any other time. It is dispensed in bouillon cups.

MANNERS AND SOCIAL CUSTOMS FOR OUR GREAT MIDDLE CLASS
AS WELL AS OUR BEST SOCIETY
Correspondence, Cards and Introductions, Dress for Different Occasions, Weddings, Christenings, Funerals, Etc.,
Social Functions, Dinners, Luncheons.
Gifts, "Showers," Calls, and Hundreds of Other Essential Subjects so Vital to Culture and Refinement of Men, Women, School-Girls and Boys at Home and in Public.
By MRS ELIZABETH JOHNSTONE
Excerpt from the book:
MOTHER'S'  REMEDIES
Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remedies from Mothers of the United States and Canada.
By DR. T. J. RITTER
PUBLISHED BY G.H. FOOTE  PUB. CO. DETROIT MICH 1921

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