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Orthodox Baptisms

Read below for answers to our frequently asked questions about Orthodox baptisms. If you have a question that is not answered below, we’re happy to assist! Email your question to

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Preparing for the Baptism:

General Information About Baptisms:

General Information About Koufeta / Bomboniera

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# Preparing for the Baptism

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# What items do I need for the christening ceremony?

You will need the following for the baptismal ceremony:

(1) Baptismal Candles
Provided by the godparent, one large decorated candle for the ceremony and smaller white candles to be carried by the children who circle the font. The traditional decoration of a baptismal candle includes a large bow of ribbon or tulle with streamers.

(2) Martyrika (traditional but not essential)
Also known as martirika, or witness pins – these are small lapel crosses handed out at the end of the ceremony and worn by guests as proof of witnessing the baptism. The traditional pin is made of white, pink or blue ribbon and features a tiny cross or icon in the center.

(3) Bombonieres (traditional but not essential)
Also known as boubounieres or candy favors – are almond candy favors given to each guest after the baptism by either the godparent or the parents of the baptized child. Styles can range widely for these favors. Traditional favors are simple white, pink or blue puffs of tulle tied with a ribbon and filled with white Jordan almonds. However, styles can range widely and can extend to the elaborate, distinctive and fun. The gift of bombonieres is an Eastern Orthodox tradition over 3,000 years old.

Filled with koufeta – jordan almonds – the favors are given as tokens of good fortune and happiness. Bombonieres are symobolic of life with their bittersweet taste. The sugar coating represents the hope that life will be blessed with more sweetness than bitterness. Bombonieres are always filled with an odd number of almonds. The odd number is indivisible and symbolizes the union and indivisibility of the newly married couple.

(4) 2 white hand towels (1 towel at least is essential, 2 is traditional)

They hang on the sides of the baptismal font and are used to wipe hands during the ceremony.

(5) 1 large white bath towel (essential)

The large towel is for drying off the child before dressing in the baptismal outfit.

(6) 1 white oil sheet (essential)

Used immediately after the dunking of the child in the baptismal font. One Godparent will hold the oil sheet outspread and the priest will place the child into the oil sheet when finished at the baptismal font. The oil sheet protects the Godparent's clothing and wraps the child.

(7) 1 bar of soap (essential)

Used to wash the oil off the hands of the Godparents and the priest after the communion.

(8a) 1 small oil bottle (essential, but church may be able to lend one)

Olive oil is poured into the oil bottle and then blessed by the priest. The Holy Oil is then used by the priest to baptize the child. The priest will pour the Holy Oil into the baptismal water.

(8b) Olive oil (non-essential if church provides the oil)

Any 100% pure virgin olive oil can be used for the baptism. You can purchase any 100% pure virgin olive oil from a store and bring it with you to the church, where upon the priest will bless it during the service.

(9) 1 baptismal cross and chain (essential)

Traditionally a gold or white gold cross.Chain and cross is put onto the child at the alter by a Godparent. This happens after the child is baptized and dressed in his/her baptismal outfit.

(10) Proof of Godparent’s current good standing in the Orthodox church (essential)

Needed by the church to prove the Godparents are Orthodox Christians.

(11) Baptismal outfit (essential)

The baptismal wear consists of the outfit, the shoes and the socks. Traditionally undergarments are also used (a onesie or specialty cloth undershirt and bloomers) that can absorb the Holy oil on the baby and provide a protective layering between the (oily) skin of the baby and the baptismal outfit. Whether or not the outfit comes with a bonnet or hat, many also choose to buy an oil liner cap for the baby’s head to absorb the holy oil and protect the clothing of anyone holding the baby. All clothing must be white.

(12) Pre-Ceremony outfit (non-essential)

This is the outfit that the baby wears to the church and in which she or he begins the service. The service begins at the doors to the church from the narthex where the baby is presented to the church. As the baby is likely to be photographed during this portion of the ceremony – and as she /he is being presented to the church, it is traditional to wear a nice outfit. This outfit does not have to be white – it can be any color!

And always a good idea to pack baby wipes and extra diapers. You may need it to change the baby when changing the baby into his/her baptismal outfit.


# What are the requirements for a Godparent?

A Godparent - or sponsor - must be:

- At least 12 years of age
- Baptized and/or chrismated in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church
- if married, married in the Greek Orthodox Church
- if divorced, has received an Eccelesiastical Divorce
- is a current parishioner in good standing (a member /steward) of any parish in the Greek Orthodox Church.


# What paperwork is required for the Orthodox baptism?

Although it may differ from church to church, the following paperwork is generally needed to be submitted to the church prior to the date of the event:

For a godparent:

  • A copy of his/her Ecclesiastical Marriage Certificate, if applicable
  • A copy of his/her Ecclesiastical Divorce, if applicable
  • A copy of his/her Baptismal Certificate
  • A Certificate of Membership ((If from a church different than where the baptism is taking place). This certificate must be
    • signed by his/her parish priest and printed on the church’s letterhead
    • current for the same year in which the baptism is scheduled

For the parents of the baptized child:

  • Application for Baptism or Chrismation. This will include information of in what parish you were married and by what priest. You may need to provide proof of your marriage.
  • Selection of a chosen Greek Orthodox Christian name of a saint (if the legal name is not a Christian name of a saint, a baptized name must be chosen). No nicknames or secular names can be used.


# Who pays for what for a baptism?
Our most popular FAQ! There is no absolute for who pays for what, but we can offer general guidelines on what is traditionally done. Each situation is unique. As a base foundation, the Godparent assumes the financial responsibilities of the baptism until the parents of the baptized child offer to pay for items. It is most common for the costs to be split between the Godparents and the parents with each picking up the cost for certain elements of the event.

The Godparent traditionally pays for:

  • The baptismal outfit (gown or suit).
  • The oil & towel set (lathopana) which includes the oil bottle, oil sheet, and baptismal towels.
  • A cross necklace for the child to keep for his/her lifetime.

The Godparent OR the parent pays for:

  • The jordan almond/boubouniera favors.
  • Martyrika / witness pins.
  • The ladopana / baptismal candles – traditionally one large one (one is adequate for either 1 or 2 Godparents) and 2 smaller candles for any children or other participants who may be up at the alter.

The parents of the child typically pay for:

  • The reception after the baptism.
  • The pre-ceremony outfit
  • Any gratuities to the priest or any charge for use of a church facility (although this traditionally is a responsibility of the godparents, many parents of the child nowadays assume this responsibility).


Should I plan to tip the priest for performing the baptism? If so – what is the appropriate amount?

Yes, it is customary to tip the priest who conducts your baptism. Tips vary from region to region. In the NYC region, a standard amount for a tip can be anywhere from $100 to $300 for the priest (very typical amount can be $100-$150). Some choose to give a gift if they feel uncomfortable tipping.

  • If you do not wish to tip the priest, it is appropriate to make a donation to the church.
  • You may be requested to make a donation to the church for a facility charge for use of the church.
  • The psalti (ψάλτης / cantor) is the man who sings at the church. He usually gets tipped too - and a typical amount is $50.
  • There may be a third man at the service - the neikoro - who helps the priest. The neikoro is sometimes also referred to as the Custodian. If so, he is traditionally tipped to - in an amount similar to the psalti.
  • The tip can be paid for by either the parents of the child being baptized or by the Godparents.


# Do the parents of the Godchild get a gift for the Godparents?
Yes. It is traditional that the parents of the baptized child give a gift to the Godparents as a thank you for doing them the honor of taking their child under their religious wing. While it is a great honor to be chosen as a Godparent for a child, it is also a great responsibility. A proper gift of thanks is appropriate at the baptism. The gift can be anything of choosing and can range from a frame for a picture of the godchild, to kitchenware, to homeware, or to something specific for the Godparent's taste. A religious gift (icon) is always appropriate as well.


# Does the cross need to be blessed before the baptism?

No - the cross necklace for the child to be baptized does not need to be blessed before the baptism.


#Can I wash the oil sheet and towel before the actual baptism?
Yes, before the service, if you wish, you can wash the oil sheet and the towel. It is once the Holy Oil from the baptism touches the towel and oil sheet that special care needs to be taken. Post-ceremony, the oil sheet and towel should be washed separately in a bucket and then the bucket water disposed of on the property of the Godchild's home (the Holy Oil thus being washed into the bucket water and then being transferred into the land where the child lives). If you do not prefer to wash the clothes in a bucket, you can wash them by themselves in the washing machine - and move the drain tube to empty into a bucket and then dispose of that water on soil at the home of the Godchild.

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# During the Baptism:

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#What happens during the Baptism?

(1) The child is presented to the church

(2) The child is immersed in the baptismal font three times, symbolizing the three days Christ spent in the tomb. This event is a reenactment of Christ's baptism, death and Resurrection.

(3) After immersion, the priest places the child in the open arms of the godparent, who holds a new white sheet as a symbol of the soul's purity.

(4) Immediately following the baptism in the font, the priest administers a second sacrament: Chrismation, where the child receives the gift of the Holy Spirit with miron, a special oil blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Three locks are tonsured (cut) from the child's hair in the form of a cross.

(5) The child is taken into a dressing room in the church and put into his/her baptismal outfit by the Godparents or the grandparents.

(6) While the child is being changed, the baptismal candles are lit.

(7) The dressed child is brought back into the church and the priest, Godparents, baptized child, and chosen children walk around the baptismal font three times.

(8) The reading of scriptures takes place and the priest administers a third sacrament, communion, to the child.


# How long is an Orthodox baptism?
The actual Orthodox baptism lasts about 30-40 minutes. The entire time at the church may last longer if the priest starts a bit later or if you stay at the church after the ceremony tp chat with guests or to take photos in front of the church altar.



Can you show me photos of what happens during the Baptism?

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting beginning of baptism when the child is presented to the church at the entryway:

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting the next step of a baptism, when the priest pours oil into the cupped hands of the Godparents, who then wipe oil on the child's body. The oiled baby is then immersed three times in the baptismal font.

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting after immersion, the baby is placed into the Godparents arms who hold the oil sheet to protect their clothing and absorb the Holy oil on the baby:

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting the sacrament of Chrismation where the priest administers
the miron, a special oil blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting the sacrament of Christmation, the tonsuring of the child, when three locks are cut from the child's hair in the form of the cross.

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting child in dressing room getting changed into his baptismal outfit:

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting chosen children holding their candles and around the baptismal table:

Baptismal Photo: Photo depicting the baptized child receiving her first Communion:

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How much oil gets used during a baptism? How big does the oil bottle need to be?

  • A little Holy oil goes a long way! About 3-4 ounces of Holy oil is used during a baptism. Blessed Celebration's oil bottles hold enough oil for the ceremony. They are a minimum of 6 ounces and size up from there.


Does the baby's head get submerged into the water when baptized?
No, generally the baby’s head is not immersed into the baptismal font. While each priest might have a different style, traditionally, the baby is held under the arms by the priest and lowered into the font . The font contains about 6-10 inches of water. The baby will likely be submerged up until his or her belly. The priest then, holding the baby with one hand under the arm, uses the other hand and scoops water from the font with his hand and pours it over the head over the head of the baby.


Who can hold the baby during the baptism?
The baby may be held by anyone during the baptism - but only the Godparent can spread the oil on the baby. The Godparents hold the baby at the beginning of the ceremony and then the priest will hold the baby. After the dunking, the baby is placed into the arms of the Godparent with the oil sheet. If there is only one Godparent, then the Godparent will spread the oil on the baby and another designated person will hold the oil sheet to catch the baby. When the baby comes out of the dressing room in his/her baptismal gown, the baby can be held by any caretaker - a grandmother for instance - brought to the baptismal font. When the baby is being tonsured, he/she will be held by the Godparent.



Who signs the Ecclesiastical Baptismal Certificate?

One (never two) godparents signs the Ecclesiastical Baptismal Certificate. If both godparents are Orthodox, a decision will need to be made which of the two will sign the certificate. If one godparent is Orthodox and the other is a non-Orthodox (and with limited participation in the ceremony), the Orthodox godparent signs the certificate. A non-Orthodox Christian’s name will not appear on the certificate as a godparent of the child.

The certificate is signed at the end of the baptismal ceremony. The priest will present the certificate for signing.

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# After the Baptism

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# What is the Godparent’s responsibility after the baptism? #

  • The godparent should arrange with the parents to bring the newly baptized person (infant, child or adult) to Holy Communion for three consecutive Divine Liturgies at any Orthodox Christian church. The baptismal candle used in the ceremony should be brought to the church for the three communions. The candle should be lit when you go up for Holy Communion.
  • The godparent should nurture the newly baptized child or adult into the Orthodox Christian faith. This can be done through regular attendance at worship services, teaching your godchild about the Orthodox faith, and encouraging the child to participate in religious education and youth ministry programs.
  • The godparent should attend godparent events at the church with their godchild.
  • The godparent should remember their godchild at holidays, birthdays and on his or her name day.


I’m having a reception after the baptism ceremony. Am I supposed to invite the priest who did the baptism? #

Yes! It is customary to invite the priest to any reception after the service. The priest may or may not attend depending upon his schedule, but it proper and expected to extend the invitation.


# What do I do with the baptism candle after the baptism?
The godparents must bring the baptized baby to church for three communions after the baptism. Ideally, these communions are taken consecutively the first three Sundays after the baptism. If the Godparent(s) or Godchild is not available for a particular Sunday, then communion should be taken the next available Sunday.

The baptismal candle is brought with the Godchild to the church each of these three communions. A few minutes before communion starts, the Godparent should light the candle using the flame from a lit candle in the narthex. The lit candle should be brought up to the alter during communion. It may be blown out at any point after communion. Special note: the Godparent should carry the child on the right side of his or her body as he/she approaches the alter. If there are two Godparents, one should carry the baby to the alter, the other should hold the lit candle. At the time of communion, the Godparent should provide the priest wtih the baptismal name of the baby right before the baby accepts communion.


# What do I do with the baptismal clothing after the baptism? Can I wash them?
After the baptism, the baptismal clothes - or vaftistika / baptistika - contain Holy Oil on the garment. As such, the Holy Oil cannot be disposed of through a washing in a washing machine.

The best way to wash the garment post Sacrament is to do a wash by hand in a bucket. You can wash the clothing with regular detergent in a bucket and poor the washed water outside onto the ground. Another option used is to wash the garment in a washing machine but move the drain tube to empty into a bucket (rather than into a sink) and then dispose of the washing machine water onto the ground of the Godchild's home. You can also wash the Lathopana (towels and oil sheet) the same way. as these, too, contain Holy Oil on them.


# For Greek baptisms, what is said after a baptism to the parents of the child?

The traditional saying a witness says to the Godparents or parents at a baptism is "Na sas zisi". This means "May he/she live for you". Amongst family members of the baptized child, the saying is "Na mas zisi" which means "May he/she live for us". A shortened version of this congratulations is "Na zisi" or "may he/she live".


Is it typical to have a reception after the baptism?:

A baptism is a major milestone in a person’s life. It is common to have a reception after the baptism so that those who have just witnessed the christening can gather to properly acknowledge and celebrate the sacrament they just witnessed. While it is not necessary to have an elaborate a formal reception, it is proper to have some sort of gathering so that guests of the event can have the time to pass on their best wishes, spend some time with the newly baptized and share in the joy of the family. The reception generally immediately follows the baptism. The celebration can be held in a number of places:
- a simple gathering of coffee and snacks on the church grounds or at a park
- a gathering at a family’s house
- a reception in the church hall
- a luncheon or dinner at a restaurant.
- a reception at a rented hall
The celebration generally entails some food and drink - and a cake in honor of the newly baptized. A toast is usually given by the new Godparents.

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#General Information About Baptisms #

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What is the reason we use olive oil in a baptism?

Olive oil – and not vegetable or other oil - is used to anoint the baptized individual into the Orthodox faith. The reason Orthodox Christians use olive oil is biblical and dates back to the time of Noah and the flooding of the earth. God flooded the earth and had Noah, a believer, build an arc. God was, in essence, baptizing the earth with the flood. After forty days, Noah sent out a dove that came back with a twig from an olive branch. The olive twig was a sign of mercy from God that he had saved Noah, a believer. Just as the olive healed and soothed Noah during the baptism of the planet, Orthodox Christians use the olive oil as a sign of grace to the newly anointed.


# At what age should a person be baptized?

Ideally in an Orthodox baptism, a child should be baptized between 4 and 12 months. The sooner the better so that they can participate in the life of the Church and take Communion. Unless there is an imminent health crisis, a child is not baptized before he or she receives the 40 day blessing. The Orthodox church encourages young baptisms in case, God forbid, there is a tragedy then the baby can be buried as an Orthodox Christian. As well, as the baby gets older, he or she can become too strong willed and make it more difficult to perform the baptism.

There is not age limit on when a child or adult can be baptized. The Orthodox church welcomes anyone into the church at any age. The ceremony of the dunking will be adjusted based on the age of the child or adult so that it is appropriate.


# Why is a baptism done?
Baptism cleanses an individual's soul of original sin. The sacrament of baptism and chrismation brings great happiness to the Orthodox Christian family as, once baptized, a child can begin life in the Christian Orthodox faith.


# Can a person who is not baptized or chrismated in the Greek/Eastern Orthodox Christian faith serve as a Godparent?

A non Greek/Eastern Orthodox person may have limited participation in the baptismal service but may not fully participate in the sacrament. This is because they do not profess the same Creed (faith) as Orthodox Christians. A Godparent who is a full Eastern Orthodox Christian must be named who can fully participate in the sacraments of the baptism. If there are two Godparents and one is not Christian Orthodox, the Christian Orthodox Godparent will be the one to serve as the official sponsor – and can not rub the oil on the baby or sign the baptismal certificate. Catholics are not considered Orthodox Christians and while they can serve in the ceremony of baptism, they may not serve as the official sponsor who signs the baptismal paper and may not rub the oil on the baby.


#Can a baby whose parents are not Orthodox Christian or not married by baptized?

Yes, a baby can be baptized into the Orthodox faith if his or her parents are not married. As well, a baby can be baptized if the parents are not Orthodox Christians. The Godparent is required to be Orthodox Christian for the baby to be baptized, as the baby will need a religious sponsor.


# Who may not serve as a Godparent?

  • A person may not serve as a godparent:
    • If married civilly and the Church has not blessed his/her marriage
    • If he/she is civilly divorced and has not been granted an ecclesiastical divorce
    • If he/she is not a steward of a Greek Orthodox church in good standing
    • For any other reason he/she is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Church


#Can two sets of families baptize each other’s children? #

  • Technically, yes, it is permitted that two sets of families can baptize each other’s children. However, the church does not advise that this be done and certain clergy will not conduct a baptism between families that are already koumbaroi (God-family). The Orthodox preference, ideally, is that our spiritual families expand thus spreading the faith and spiritual bonding as opposed to contracting it within families that already have a spiritual bond/relationship, i.e. they already are koumbaroi.

Can two children be baptized at the same time in the Orthodox faith?
Yes, the Orthodox faith will conduct two baptisms in one service. This can happen in the case of twins or with two various aged siblings who are both entering the faith at the same time. A husband and wife can be baptized at the same time - and as well, two cousins can be baptized at the same time. The two being baptized would share the same baptismal font - but would need individual candles, crosses, baptismal gowns and oil sheets.

Can two siblings share the same Godparent? Can a person baptize two people within one family?
Yes, the Orthodox doctrine does allow for one person to baptize two people within the same family. However, it is encouraged that two siblings have different Godparents so that the family expands their Orthodox family as much as possible.


Can an adult or child be baptized twice? #
  • No, a person may not be baptized twice. They can only be baptized once into the Orthodox faith.Baptism is a sacrament and can only be done once. Once baptized, the child is part of the Orthodox faith and a second baptism is not able to be performed. A priest in a different parish from the original baptizing parish would not be able to perform a baptism if the child is already a member of the Orthodox faith.


# Can two god siblings marry? Can a god brother and god sister marry?

( This question is answered here in the baptismal section, because the baptism does affect how two families can interact in the future.)

  • Per Orthodox canon law, a god brother and god sister cannot marry. A person is a god sibling with someone when their parents have baptized a child in their family. If family A has 2 children and family B has 2 children – and either of the parents in family A baptized a child in family B, then those 4 siblings are considered godchildren. Children from family A cannot be married to children in family B in the Orthodox church. The families have been joined under God by baptism and thus cannot be married in the Orthodox faith.


#What do I wear to a baptism? Can I wear black to a baptism?

Any color is permitted to be worn at a baptism but traditionally black is not worn. It is an occasion of celebration and new life so somber colored clothes are usually to be downplayed or avoided. White is perfectly acceptable and very appropriate.


# What are the non-permissible dates of the calendar year to hold a baptism?
Baptisms may not be conducted on the following days unless it is absolutely necessary and permission is obtained from the Metropolis Metropolitan:

1. December 25th - January 6th
2. Holy Week
3. Major Feast Days
4. August 1-15


# What is a good gift for my godchild?

A gift from a godparemt to a godchild should be something that is meaningful to the nature of your special religious connection. A religious education book is always a great gift. For children, Orthodox picture bibles make wonderful gifts. Religious bracelets, saint cards, or a framed picture of you and the child is also a wonderful keepsake. A special and extremely appropriate lifetime gift for your godchild is an icon – especially one of his/her patron saint. For a list of icons made for Blessed Celebration by Orthodox nuns, please visit our icon page here.


# What is the difference between a Greek Orthodox baptism and a Roman Catholic baptism?

The nature of the baptism is the same for both the Roman Catholics as the Greek Orthodox baptism: It is the cleansing of sin from the baptized individual and the beginning of membership into the Church. Both religions recognize baptism as a Sacrament. Both churches conduct a Trinitarian baptism – or acknowledge the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both churches pledge the baptized individual to the Service of God forever.

Some of the differences between a Greek Orthodox and a Roman Catholic baptism include:

  • The Greek Orthodox church conducts deep water baptism. The Roman Catholic church does not have deep water baptism.
  • In the Greek Orthodox baptism, the individual is tonsured (the cutting of the hair) but is not in the Roman Catholic service.
  • The baptized individual in the Greek Orthodox church must receive a cross to wear.
  • The Godparents are obligated by the church to care for the raising of the child should the parents perish, at least with regard to his or her religious education. Godparents are considered to be second parents to the baptized individual in the Greek Orthodox church.
  • The Sacrament of Chrismation is the equivalent of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic church – the giving of the Holy Spirit (Communion). In the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation is separate from the Baptism – given to those 7 or older - and is performed by a Bishop. In the Orthodox Church a priest performs the Sacrament of Baptism followed by the Sacrament of Confirmation—the first Communion, in the same service.
  • The Godparents in the Orthodox baptism are asked to “spit on the devil” during the service.


# If a person is baptized in a non-orthodox ceremony, how does he/she become an orthodox Christian at a later date? How does someone convert to Orthodoxy if they are already baptized?

On a summary level, a person who is baptized already outside of the Orthodox religion can become an Orthodox Christian through Chrismation. If the baptism is recognized by the Greek Orthodox church (Catholic baptism, for example), then another baptism is not necessary and need not take place. A chrismation would only need to take place. A chrismation is a sacrament performed by a priest where the person is anointed with special oil called holy chrism.During the Greek Orthodox baptism, the chrismation happens right after the sacrament of Baptism (all in the same service).

Certain baptisms are recognized by the Orthodox faith (a Catholic baptism for example) and certain religious baptisms are not. If the baptism is recognized, then just the sacrament of Chrismation would be done to be entered into the Orthodox faith. If the baptism is not recognized, an Orthodox baptism (and Chrismation) will likely need to be performed to convert to the Orthodox faith.



Can my child have a non-Christian name and be baptized in the Orthodox church?# What is the practical implication of choosing the baptized name when it is different than the child's legal name?

A person must be baptized with a Christian Orthodox name, however this name does not need to be the person's given birth name. A person can have two names - the baptized name and the non-baptized (birth certificate) name. The baptized name needs to be an Orthodox name, meaning there is a Saint of that name. For example, a person named Scott Christopher can not be baptized as Scott. But, can be baptized as Christopher. Thus, this person's middle name can serve as the baptismal name.

On the secular records (the public name, birth certificate name), the name can be anything, but when presented to the Orthodox church for baptism, a baptismal name must be choosen (should the secular name not be Orthodox or should you want a separate baptismal name). You will select the baptismal name when filling out the application for the baptism. The priest will review your choice and let you know if there is any issue with the name. The baptismal name is the name you will use each time Communion is giving and you present yourself to the church stating your baptismal name.

To offer further clarification, the baptismal name is quite different than the legal name of the child. The baptismal name is one named after a Saint - or a Christian name recognized by the church. This name will be used for representation before the Orthodox church - and the child would speak his Orthodox name when getting communion. Many times the baptismal name is the same as the legal name. Other times, the baptismal name is different and is not widely known by others outside the priest and immediate family. A priest generally will refer to a person by their baptismal name as this is the name they have come to know the person.


# Can the priest modify the nature of the baptismal ceremony to accommodate special requests?

The specifics of the ritual of the sacrament of baptism cannot be altered. They are very specific and follow a strict code that is not open to compromise. The priest does not have the authority to change the nature of the Orthodox
ceremony. There are some priests who are more or less flexible with easing up on the nuances of the ceremony - like who may participate at the altar - but the priest cannot change things like the fact that an Orthodox Christian needs to be the one to spread the oil on the baby and sign as the sponsor to the child.


Can there be two Godmothers? Can there be two Godfathers? #

Canonically and traditionally there can only be one Godparent. Practically, however, two Godparents usually serve in the ceremony - typically a male Godfather and a female Godmother. The person who signs the certificate is considered the sacramental Godparent to the baptized person. If a second Godparent is participating, this person is considered the honorary Godparent. The two chosen Godparents need not be married or related. Some clergy allow 2 people to sign the baptismal certificate even though there is space for only one sponsor Godparent to do so - even though the Orthodox Hierarchs frown upon this.

In the situation of having two female Godmothers or two male Godfathers - this can be allowed but is at the discretion of the clergy performing the service.


There was a death in the family - do need to wait to schedule the baptism of my child? #

You do not need to wait any amount of time to baptize your child.Baptism is a sacrament and there is no rule that forbids a sacrament from taking place because of another event. There are certain days of the calendar that baptisms are not performed – but otherwise, a baptism can happen at any point. You may wish to wait to have the sacrament outside of the traditional 40 days so that those who are mourning the loss can have time for the initial bereavement. However, a child’s introduction into the Orthodox faith does not need to be delayed - it should take place when the parents feel it is right.


I would like to use the same candle from my older daughter baptism for my younger daughter's baptism. Can I use a baptismal candle that was already used?

It is not a problem to use the same baptismal candles. The church does not have a policy that a candle has to be new to be used in a sacrament. You are fine to reuse the candle from your daughter’s baptism.


Can we use the same baptismal dress for our second daughter that our first used after the baptism

Yes - It is perfectly acceptable to use the same baptismal outfit again for a second child. You may wish to use a new bodysuit and oil liner cap so that you do not have the oil stains there and celebrate with fresh undergarments, but the outfit and bonnet itself can certainly be used from a previous celebration.


Do I have to use a new cross for a baptism or can I use a cross that is passed down?

It is allowed and perfectly acceptable practice in the Orthodox faith to pass down a cross. As long as the cross is an Orthodox cross (not Celtic or other) then the cross is able to be used. The cross is meant to be for the child’s lifetime so if it is used in the baptism, it becomes the child’s for the rest of the child’s life.


I've been christened already. Can I be christened in the Orthodox church?...Or is only one christening allowed?

The Orthodox Christian Church recognizes any baptism that is done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A Christian denomination that only baptizes in the name of Jesus conducts a baptism that is not recognized by the Orthodox church and you would need to be re-baptized by the Orthodox church. If the religion of your original baptism believes in the Holy Trinity, then this baptism is recognized by the Orthodox Church and no further christening is needed. If you are converting from one Christian faith to Orthodox Christianity, both the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of Chrismation – or confirmation –needs to be done.

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# About Boubouniera

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# What are bouboniera?

  • Bouboniera are favors given out in celebration at weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, and any special celebratory event. The favors traditionally contain jordan almonds. Boubonieres are given out as gifts to each guest after the wedding or baptism at the reception. Styles can range widely for these favors. Traditional favors are simple white, ivory, pink or blue puffs of tulle tied with a ribbon. However, styles can range widely and can extend to the elaborate, distinctive and fun.


What is the tradition of the favors?#

  • The gift of bomboniera is an Eastern Orthodox tradition over 3,000 years old. Filled with koufeta – or jordan almonds – the favors are given as tokens of good fortune and happiness. Bombonieres are symobolic of life with their bittersweet taste. The sugar coating represents the hope that life will be blessed with more sweetness than bitterness.


How many jordan almonds do boubouniera contain? What do the almonds represent?#
Bombonieres are always filled with an odd and an indivisible number of almonds. The traditional amount is 5 almonds – which symbolizes:

(1) health
(2) happiness,
(3) fertility,
(4) wealth and
(5) a long life.

Sometimes 7 almonds are used. The 6th and 7th almond represent: (6) Purity & Partnership and (7) Unity with Christ.

Favors can be filled with more than 5 almonds, if desired – but the number has to be odd and indivisible (i.e., 7, 11 or 13 almonds). Favors cannot be filled with 9 almonds, as 9 is a divisible number. In a wedding, the indivisible number symbolizes the union and indivisibility of the newly married couple. In a baptism, the indivisibility of the union of the baptized child with his or her Godparents.


When are favors given out and how many should I order?#

  • Traditionally one favor is given to each guest. For both baptisms and weddings, the favors are usually given out at the reception (although sometimes given out directly at the church after a baptism). For weddings, they may be placed out at the table settings, distributed at the end of the night, placed out along with table assignments, or given out by the bride and groom. For baptisms, they may also be distributed to guests by the Godparents or the parents of the baptized baby.


How long do Jordan Almonds stay fresh? How soon before my event date can I order my favors? #

  • Jordan almonds stay fresh for up to months. The hard sugar coating provides a protective wrap that keeps the jordan almond fresh for many months. White jordan almonds keep fresh for 6-12 months. Colored almonds - which may start to fade in color after a few months - stay fresh for only up to 4 months. Foil-covered gold or silver almonds stay fresh for up to 4 months. Any favor with jordan almonds should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct exposure to light. If your timing allows, we recommend ordering about 2 months before your event date.


What's the correct spelling and how do you pronounce bouboniera? #
Traditionally pronounced: "Boo-bon-yera" or "Bom-bon-yera". There is no one correct way to spell this word - you will likely encounter a variety of spellings. Some of the most popular are:

  • Boubouniera, bouboniera (singular or plural)
  • Boubounieres (plural)
  • Bonboniere, bomboniere (singular)
  • Bomboniera, Bombonieres
  • ... the list goes on.


Do you offer other colors besides white for the jordan almonds? #

  • Yes - We also offer pink, light blue and ivory jordan almonds. You can substitute these colors in your bouboniera if you wish - at no extra charge. To do so, you may request this option in the comment box at checkout. We do also offer silver colored jordan almonds (these are silver foiled wrapped) at an additional charge. If you would prefer silver colored almonds in your favors, the additional surcharge is $0.85 per favor.


Can I add a candy to the jordan almonds or will it throw off the symbolic count?

  • The number of koufeta is what holds the tradition. The sugared almond has sweetness wrapped around bitterness – and is the symbolic part of the number count. You can add to the koufeta almonds with chocolate or a different type of candy. This newly added item will not be part of the official tally that goes into the odd (odd and indivisible) number of the almonds.

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