Ari’s Baptism Day
I have been meaning to share these photos for a while now. My son’s baptism was back in January. Being a mum means that you get busy and distracted and sometimes blogging a post like this one takes a few months to complete. Thank you to the lovely readers who have sent me emails asking to see photos. I hope that the tips and photos in this story help you to plan for your own child or God child’s christening. Here it is… finally… the story of my son’s christening day.
Our koumbaro Elia is Ari’s nouno. He stefanosied us on our wedding day and it is tradition for him to also christen our first child. Elia was more excited about Ari’s christening than I was. He organised everything that we needed for the Church (along with a bit of help from my mum) and the details were perfect. We are very blessed to have such a generous and loving man to be nouno to our son.
Related post: What Should God Parents Buy For A Christening?
Ari’s 1st Outfit
Babies wear 2-3 outfits on their Christening day: one to Church, the white Christening outfit and a casual outfit or pajamas for the baby to change in to later on. Each of these outfits need to be washed together in the same water (three days after the christening).
The 1st outfit (the one that the baby wears to Church) is traditionally purchased by the parents of the child. However, Ari’s nouno purchased his 1st outfit as well as 2 other outfits for the day which made it 3 outfits in total (as I mentioned earlier, he is a very generous man).
Ari’s 1st outfit was a white shirt with brown suspenders, with tan pants and white socks. I didn’t put any shoes on Ari. In fact, Ari hasn’t worn any shoes since he was born. It is a tradition (or a superstition) that babies should not wear shoes until their christening day. The first pair of shoes that a baby wears should be the ones his Godparents buy for him.
Related Post: 10 Greek Traditions and Superstitions For New Babies
The Beginning of the Baptism
The beginning of a baptism starts at the front of the Church or outside the Church. Before a person can be baptised they must first renounce Satan. Babies are too young to talk at this age (Ari was 8 months old) so their Godparent or Sponsor does the talking on their behalf.
The Godparent has to spit on the ground as a symbol to renounce Satan and also read a passage from the book.
We were very blessed to have three Priests present at Ari’s Baptism. Fr Anastacios, Fr Roman and Fr Nicholas. The service was held at St George Greek Orthodox Church in Brisbane. The same Church in which we were married and the same Church where I was Christened.
All of these amazing photos have been captured by: Andrew Porfyri
The Mother Can’t Touch The Baby
For years, I have always noticed that the mother of the child being baptised is standing at the back of the Church or hiding somewhere. I never understood why. I thought that there was an official “rule” that suggests that mother’s are not allowed to touch the baby during a Christening. Although that may still be the case, I discovered another reason why mothers try to hide.
My Ari kept looking at me throughout the service. He could see me and he made eye contact a few times. I was sitting in the front row and perhaps that was a mistake. Each time the baby saw me, he would put his arms out and want to come to me. I’m very lucky that my Ari is normally calm and placid. He goes to anyone and he is generally a happy baby. However, for most children, they want their mum when they see their mum. So, it’s best to stand away so that your baby can’t see you.
Grandmother’s Have A Special Role In A Baptism
Since the mother is not allow to touch the baby during the baptism, it is usually the Grandmother’s job (or nouna, or aunty, or sister, or close friend) to undress and dress the baby. Here are some important things to know about the Grandmother’s roles:
- Someone is required to go up to collect the baby – so that the baby can be undressed.
- Two or three people may be required to undress the baby, quickly.
- Someone is required to take the naked baby up to the alter – this part is a VERY SPECIAL part. The person who takes the naked baby up to the alter needs to stand there for a while with the baby in her arms. The Priest will rub oil on the baby at this point and you may get oil on your hands. You then need to dry your hands on the baby’s towel. If this is your first child you may like to pick which mother you want to take this role. You also might like to give each mother a turn as you have more children. Decide who will do it BEFORE the day of the Christening.
- Again, two or three people will need to dry the baby and dress the baby, quickly.
- Discuss this “role” with your mother and mother-in-law. Make sure that everyone is clear and that they know who will do which part.
- Show the outfit to the person who is undressing/dressing the baby. Do this before the Christening day. Make sure that everyone feels comfortable with the outfit and they know which buttons to do up or how the outfit goes together. If there is a hat, try the hat on. If there is a special nappy, try the nappy on.
- Try the outfit on the baby before the Christening day. Get the person who is going to be dressing the baby on the day to have a practice run.
- If you are using cloth nappies, make sure that the person who is dressing the baby knows how to use the cloth nappy.
Dressing a baby seems easy and we do it every day. However on the Christening day, it needs to be done fast and you have a lot of people watching. This can be a bit overwhelming or nerve racking for some people.
One the baby is undressed, one of the yiayias will take him up to the alter for the main part of the Baptism. The Priest pours some oil (that has been provided by the Godparent) in to the water. Then the Godparent covers the baby with oil from head to toe.
After the oil, the baby is dunked into the water, three times.
Then the Priest will put the baby in to the arms of the Godparent, covered by a white towel and a sheet.
The baby is blessed with miro (holy oil all the way from Mt Athos in Greece) and then his hair is cut. The Priest will put the singlet on the baby before he is take back to the Grandmothers to get dressed in his white Baptism outfit.
Will The Baby Cry?
At this stage everyone is usually waiting to see if the baby has cried or not. In fact, during the lead up to any christening, that is the number one question that you hear from family and friends: “Do you think that the baby will cry?” and then at the christening it is the one thing that everyone continues to talk about. Some of my friends have gotten very stressed over these comments about the baby crying because it is not something that we can control. However I think it’s important to know that MOST babies will cry on their Christening day. It is not a reflection of you as a parent and it’s not that it’s a bad thing.
My Ari was really good the whole way through. He only cried a little bit at the end when the Priest was putting the miro on him. Then he continued crying while he was getting dressed. Once he was dressed, he was happy again.
The outfit that Ari wore on his Christening day was very cute. It was a little bit big and we had it altered however the jacket was still a bit big on the day. The suit is from Christina and Lina at Petit Atelier in Oakeligh, Victoria. The girls were so helpful and helped me to select the perfect outfit for my Ari (even though it was only a few weeks before the Christening and I was super rushed). They also told me how to alter the suit and what to do when it arrived. If I allowed more time, the girls would have gotten me a smaller jacket. Ah well, not to worry. It will fit him in the winter time.
A baby’s Christening outfit is supposed to be white. Ari’s outfit was all white except for his jacket which was a light tan colour to go with the Old World Explorer Theme that we had planned for the party (I’ll share more about this in my next post).
Walk Around The Table
Once the baby is dressed, everyone walks around the table three times. That is, the Godfather, the baby, the Priest and if there is a child holding the candle then the child walks around too.
Kiss The Hand of The GodParent
At the end of the service, the mother (that’s me!) has to go up to the alter and kiss the Icons. One on the right and one on the left. I did my stavro, three times after each kiss and then I had to kiss the hand of my Koumbaro, Ari’s new Godfather. Then I get my baby back for cuddles. It is the best feeling in the world to cuddle your little boy after such a big event.
All of our guests come up to say congratulations to us. Some of them kissed the baby and some of them did not.
They say that you shouldn’t kiss the baby after his Christening because you don’t want to take the oil away. However not everyone knows that. If someone didn’t know that rule, I wasn’t going to tell them. They are all family and they have good intentions and best wishes for our son. However, now that I personally know that rule, I will never kiss a baby on his/her Baptism day.
There are a few more part to this story but I’m going to share two more parts to this post:
Part 2… will be about the celebration after the Christening – An Old World Explorer Theme
Part 3… will be about the bath that we have on the 3rd day after the Christening.
Photographer: Andrew Porfyri Ari’s Christening Outfit: Petit Atelier Ari’s Christening Shoes: Converse Infant Baptism Candle: Greek Wedding Shop Sia’s Dress: Review Australia Sia’s Make Up: Deanna Marie Sia’s Hair: Milly Pappas Nektarios Suit: Michael Innis Menswear
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