Attending a christening or a baptism is a major honor. When you’re invited to one, you are invited to be a part of someone’s journey in their faith. But the words are used so interchangeably; are they really the same thing? What’s the difference between a christening and a baptism?
What is a Christening?
A christening is always performed for a very young infant. It’s the ceremony that welcomes them into the church and commits their family to raising them in the traditions of their faith. It involves lightly sprinkling holy water on the forehead of the infant while praying over them.
A boys or girls christening outfit may be more or less formal, depending on the norms of the individual church community. A boy’s christening outfit and a girl’s christening dress tend to look very similar, and be a simple white outfit with a white bib placed on top.
What is a Baptism?
A baptism is a personal commitment to the church, and can be performed for a person of any age. It’s generally the final step in the process of converting from one faith to another or confirming your faith. In Biblical tradition, baptism is a symbol of rebirth that often involves fully submerging in holy water.
A baptism outfit is almost always formal, as it is a major event. A boy’s baptism outfit is likely to be simple slacks and a dress shirt, where a girl’s baptism outfit is more often than not going to be a girls baptism dress; both boys and girls are expected to wear white.
What Are the Similarities Between a Christening and a Baptism?
In Roman Catholicism, christening and baptism refer to the same event and when you are baptized as an infant you are born into the Catholic family. The only adults to be baptized are converts from other faiths; those raised Catholic use the sacrament of Confirmation to commit to the church.
Both involve commitment to the church and use holy water as a symbol of purifying. Additionally, both christening outfits and baptism outfits are church-appropriate, relatively formal ensembles.
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