*What items do I need for an Orthodox Christian baptism ceremony?

All About Orthodox Baptisms: Preparing for the Baptism

What items do I need for the christening 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. The cross does not need to be blessed before the christening.

(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.


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