Orthodox Baptism FAQ
WHAT ITEMS ARE NEEDED for an Orthodox baptism?
What items do I need for the christening ceremony?
(1) Baptismal Candles (essential)
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.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING AN ORTHODOX BAPTISM? Show me photos!
(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.
- Presentation at the Church: Photo depicting beginning of baptism when the child is presented to the church at the entryway:
Photos of the different events of a baptism:
- Holy Oil & Font Immersion: 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
Godparents Receiving the Baby: 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:
Chrismation - Myrrh: Photo depicting the sacrament of Chrismation where the priest administers the miron, a special oil blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Chrismation - Tonsuring: Photo depicting the sacrament of Chrismation, the tonsuring of the child, when three locks are cut from the child's hair in the form of the cross.
Dressing Room: Photo depicting child in dressing room getting changed into his baptismal outfit:
Children Circling Alter Table: Photo depicting chosen children holding their candles and around the baptismal table:
First Communion: Photo depicting the baptized child receiving her first Communion:
WHO PAYS for what in an Orthodox 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. In theory, the Godparent(s) assume the financial responsibilities of the baptism until the parents of the baptized child offer to pay for items. In practice, 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. A baptism can carry a large cost and a discussion between the godparent to be and the parents of the child on how to ideally allocate financial responsibilty is best practice
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.
- Martyrika / witness pins.
The Godparent OR the parent pays for:
- The jordan almond/boubouniera favors.
- 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).
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 (If you can not find your baptismal certificate, a certificate of
- 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.
For the adult being baptized:
- Application for Baptism or Chrismation. This will include information of in what parish you belong.
- 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.
Can I wash the OIL SHEET (lathopana) 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.
WHO HOLDS THE BABY during the Orthodox christening?
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.
What is the deal with the 3 COMMUNIONS after the baptism?
How do the Godparents do the three communions after the baptism?
The godparent is responsible for bringing the newly baptized to his or her first three communions. The first communion is taken the day of the baptism. The 2ndand 3rdcommunion would be taken the following two Sundays at Divine Liturgy. If the Godparent(s) or Godchild is not available for the 2ndor 3rdSunday to bring the child up for communion, then the parent brings the child. In general, the Godparent should take the child up for communion when available. This works well when the Godparent is a member of the same church as the child and it becomes the habit for the child to walk up with his or her Godparent. If the child and Godparent are members of different churches, the Godparent can make sure to take the child on the occasions they do see each other at the same church.
Special note: the Godparent should carry the child on the right side of his or her body as he/she approaches the altar. If there are two Godparents, one should carry the baby to the altar, the other should hold the lit candle. At the time of communion, the Godparent should provide the priest with the baptismal name of the baby right before the baby accepts communion.
What happens during an ADULT BAPTISM? What is the difference between an infant/child christening and an adult christening?
What happens during an adult Orthodox baptism? How does an adult baptism differ than a child baptism?
An adult baptism is done in a manner very similar to a child baptism. All steps of the baptism are done the same. The biggest difference will be in the step of the font immersion.
- - The to-be baptized adult is presented by the Godparents at the narthex and presented to the church. Where usually only the Godparent(s) will answer the priest as the baby can not speak, the adult may answer questions as well with the Godparents. For example “Do you renounce the devil?” – the answer “I do renounce the devil” – will be answered by both the Godparent(s) and the adult baptisee. The priest will specify if he wishes the adult to join in on the answers.
- - The adult should arrive to the church in regular clothing. The clothing should be nice clothing respectful of the church– but does not have to be anything specific for the event.
- - For the actual font immersion, this may vary from church to church depending on the priests’ specific style. A typical scenario is the priest will have the adult change into a bathing suit and a robe and the adult will re-enter into the church. The robe may either be only opened (but kept on) or removed.
- - If the church does not have an adult baptismal font, the adult will stand leaning over the baptismal font and the water would be poured over his head and hands.
- - Some churches do have adult baptismal fonts – which is like a walk down bathtub and the adult walks down the little stairs and is dunked gently into the large tub-sized font.
- - If the church does not have an adult baptismal font/bath (or if it is very good weather), the priest may allow for the ceremony to be conducted outside. If done outside, the priest will two or three buckets of warmed water outside and conduct the ceremony pouring water over the baptiszed adult’s head.
- - Some churches may have a temporary tub they use for adult baptisms.
- - After the font immersion, the adult walks in his/her robe back to the changing room and will change into a nice outfit and return to the church for the rest of the ceremony
Photo Samples of an Adult Baptism, conducted outside:
The adult baptism is conducted in a modified fashion to a baby's baptism. These pictures from a baptism last week at St. Nicholas in Wyckoff, NJ show how the convert is presented at the altar - barefoot, with modest clothing, and anointed with Holy Oil on her face, chest, hands and feet. The convert then bows over the font and the Holy water is poured over her head. The lathopana towel on the adult drapes over the shoulders and serves to protect the garments and absorb the Holy Oil.
-- Photo shows the blessing of the water in a bucket that will be brought outside to baptize the adult:
-- Photo shows the preparation of the adult by the Godfather / Sponsor before going outside for the "immersion".
-- The priest baptizes the adult by pouring the blessed water onto the adult. This particular service is done right outside the church on the side yard. The adult keeps the robe on but open for the baptism. He has a bathing suit on as well.
-- The baptized adult returns inside the church and is tonsured. He has changed from his (wet) robe to a white towel wrapped around his upper body.
-- The baptized adult changes and returns to the church to walk around the font three times, be blessed, receive Communion and have his Godparent put on his cross.
Can the priest accommodate SPECIAL REQUESTS in the baptism service?
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.
Who signs the Ecclesiastical BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE?
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.
At what AGE should a person be baptized?
The sooner the better so that they can participate in the life of the Church and take Communion. Ideally in an Orthodox baptism, a child should be baptized between 40 days and 12 months.
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. Please see our FAQ on adult baptisms to learn more on how they are done.
Can I RE-USE ITEMS between baptisms? The candle, outfit or the cross?
Can I re-use a baptismal candle, a baptismal outfit or the cross from one baptism to another?
Candle: It is not a problem to use the same baptismal candles from one ceremony to another. The church does not have a policy that a candle has to be new to be used in a sacrament. Many people prefer to have a new candle for a child so that they begin their Christian life with fresh, new items - but it is acceptable to pass a candle down for reuse.
Outfit: It is also 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 provided they are not covered in oil stains.
Cross: It is practice in the Orthodox faith to pass down a cross. A cross passed down may be used for a baptismal ceremony provided: (1) the cross is an Orthodox cross (not Celtic or other) and (2) the cross is being given to the child, not on loan. 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.
Why do we use OLIVE OIL in a baptism? How much Holy oil is needed?
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.
How much is needed? 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.
Blessed Celebration recommends you fill your oil bottle at home with 100% Virgin Olive Oil and bring it to the church for the baptism. If you forget, churches generally have olive oil on hand. Make sure to bring it in a sealed plastic bag in case something topples in the car.
What do I do with the CLOTHING and CANDLES after the baptism?
What do I do with the baptismal clothing and lathopana 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.
Candles: If you are finished with your baptismal candle, the proper way to dispose of the candle is to burn the candle down. You can do so at home. Some churches will burn the candle for you at the altar. Make sure to remove the decoration of the candle before burning the candle down.
Should I TIP THE PRIEST for performing the christening?
Should I plan to tip the priest for performing the Orthodox christening? What is an appropriate amount to tip clergy?
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. This is generally separate from the tip – as there are costs to the church for opening up the building for use during the baptism.
- The psalti (ψάλτης / cantor) is the man who sings at the church. He usually gets tipped too. 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.
- The tip is given at the end of the ceremony before you leave the church.
What are the NON-PERMISSIBLE DATES FOR A BAPTISM?
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 (the week before Orthodox Easter)
3. Major Feast Days
4. August 1-15
What is an Orthodox christening RECEPTION like?
How does the reception work for an Orthodox christening?
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.
Do I invite the priest to the baptismal reception? 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 are the REQUIREMENTS FOR A GODPARENT? How do I select a koumbaro?
What are the requirements for a Godparent?
How do I select a Godparent (Koumbaro or Koumbara) for my child?
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
- Of sound mental capabilities
- Is a current parishioner in good standing (a member /steward) of any parish in the Greek Orthodox Church.
· A person may not serve as a godparent:
- If he/she is the parent of the baptized child
- If he/she is ignorant of the Orthodox faith
- 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
- If he/she is guilty of overt sins or for any other reason he/she is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Church
The selection of a Godparent is an important choice. The Godparent – also known as a koumbaro (male) or koumbara (female) is responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the baptized individual. The person becomes a member of the baptized person’s family and the baptism brings about a lifelong relationship.
A Godparent can be a family member or a non-family member. Many chose a non-family member in order to expand the family of the baptized child. What is important is choosing someone who you feel will make an effort to guide the baptized person spiritually – and who you can entrust with your child’s well being.
In Greek Orthodox tradition, when a person marries, the best man (the koumbaros) or the maid of honor (the koumbara) from the wedding will likely serve as the Godparent to the first born child. It is not a requirement to ask them to serve as Godparent to your child – but is a natural choice. Many times, however, if the Maid of Honor or Groomsman is a family member, the Godparent may not choose to select them for serving as Godparent, as they wish to bring in an outside member to the child’s spiritual family.
Can a NON-ORTHODOX SERVE AS A GODPARENT?
Can a person who is not baptized or chrismated in the Orthodox faith serve as a Godparent? Can a Catholic serve as a Godparent? Can you have two Godparents?
The Godparent must be a full Orthodox Christian so that he or she can fully participate in the sacraments of the baptism. A non Eastern Orthodox person may participate as an honorary Godparent but would have limited participation in the baptismal service. They may not fully participate in the sacrament. This is because they do not profess the same Creed (faith) as Orthodox Christians.
Specifically for Catholics: While Catholics and Christian Orthodox share a similar faith, Catholics can not serve as the official sponsor who signs the baptismal paper and may not rub the oil on the baby.
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. Only the Orthodox Godparent can rub the oil on the baby or sign the baptismal certificate. If you have two Godparents and both are Orthodox, only one will be needed to sign the sponsoring papers.
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.
Can TWO SETS OF FAMILIES BAPTIZE each others' children?
Can two sets of families baptize each others' children? Can two siblings share the same Godparent? Can a person baptize two people within one family?
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 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 TWO GOD SIBLINGS MARRY? Can a God-brother and God-sister marry?
Per Eastern Orthodox canon law, a god brother and god sister cannot marry. The families have been joined under God by baptism and thus cannot be married in the Orthodox faith.
A person is considered 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.
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.
Do the parents of the Godchild get a GIFT FOR THE GODPARENT?
Yes. It is traditional that the parents of the baptized child give a gift to the Godparents. This is to thank them for the honor of taking their child under their religious wing and for (theoretically) assuming responsibility of the child should something happen to the parents.
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, for example - is always appropriate as well. The main requirement is that the gift be heartfelt to acknowledge the responsibility that the Godparent has just assumed.
What is a good GIFT FOR MY GODCHILD?
A gift from a godparent 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.Our top three most popular purchased gift items for a baptized child:
(1) Saint icon: Orthodox Saint Name Icons
(2) Baby blanket with cross and personalization: Baby Blanket with cross and personalization
Can my child be baptized Orthodox if I am not Orthodox and not married?
A child can be baptized into the Orthodox faith if one or both of the parents are not Greek Orthodox. As well, you can baptize your child into the Orthodox faith if the parents are unmarried.
Even if one is not Orthodox, they can support their child growing in the Orthodox faith by bringing the child to church, to Sunday school, and by exposing them to the basic tenets of the religion. The child is required to have an Orthodox sponsor - someone who will baptize them and sponsor their religious upbringing - serving as their spiritual role model in the years to come as they grow in the Orthodox faith.
Please note - many churches require you to be a member of the church in order to have a baptism there - so please contact your local priest about the requirements for holding a baptism at the church.
How does someone CONVERT TO ORTHODOXY if they are already baptized?
If a person is already baptized as a non-Orthodox Christian, how does he/she become an Orthodox Christian? 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. Baptisms that are recognized by the Orthodox faith are those that conduct the baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity -the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 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 a Chrismation would need to be performed to convert to the Orthodox faith. Most Christian religion baptisms are recognized by the Orthodox faith - as the vast majority conduct baptisms in the name of the Holy Trinity. For example, if a Presbyterian is baptized in the Presbyterian faith and later wishes to convert to Orthodoxy, he or she would only need to be Chrismated to convert . A 2nd baptism would not be necessary. If you are in doubt if your Christian baptism would be recognized by the Orthodox church, please reference your baptismal certificate: It will state your name and then "is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Most priests will require the proof of baptism - the baptismal certificate - before arranging the Chrismation.
Can my child have a NON-CHRISTIAN NAME and be baptized Orthodox?
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 someone be BAPTIZED TWICE?
No, a person may not be baptized twice.
A person 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.
How do you SAY CONGRATULATIONS for a Greek baptism?
For Greek baptisms, what is said after a baptism to the parents of the child?
For non-family members to the family: 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".
For all, the shortened version: "Na zisi" or "may he/she live".
What is the DIFFERENCE: ORTHODOX vs CATHOLIC baptism?
What is the difference between a Greek Orthodox 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.
What is the TRADITION OF THE BOMBONIERA? What do the JORDAN ALMONDS stand for? Do you offer explanation cards?
What is the tradition of the boubouniera? What do the Jordan almonds represent?
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 and can extend to the elaborate, distinctive and fun. Traditional favors are simple white, ivory, pink or blue puffs of tulle tied with a ribbon.
The gift of bomboniera is an Eastern Orthodox tradition over 3,000 years old. Filled with koufeta (coufeta)– 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. The egg shape of the almond represents fertility. The whiteness of the almond symbolizes purity.
Bombonieres are always filled with an odd and an indivisible number of almonds (i.e., 7, 11 or 13 almonds). The traditional amount is 5 almonds – which symbolizes:
(4) wealth and
(5) a long life
Sometimes 7 almonds are used. The 6th and 7th almond represent:
(6) Purity & Partnership
(7) Unity with Christ
If used for a baby shower, the 5 white Jordan almonds stand for the 5 wishes for the baby: health, wealth, happiness, fertility and long life.
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.
Blessed Celebration offers explanation cards for koufeta favors upon request (email us at email@example.com for a pricing request). If you would like to make your own explanation cards, we offer the following sample wording for a wedding card as a courtesy:
"The white of the sugar coated almonds symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and the new life that begins with marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage; the sweetness of the sugar symbolizes the sweetness of future life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as the Bride and the Groom shall remain undivided."
EXPLANATION CARD - Wedding, General version
The white symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and the newly married life. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage; the sugar coating symbolizes the sweetness of life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as the Bride & Groom shall remain undivided.
EXPLANATION CARD - Wedding - 5 almonds
The white symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility & newly married life. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage; the sugar coating symbolizes the sweetness of life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as the Bride & Groom shall remain undivided. The five almonds represent: health, happiness, fertility, wealth & long life.
EXPLANATION CARD - Wedding - 7 almonds
The white symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility & newly married life. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage; the sugar coating symbolizes the sweetness of life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as the Bride & Groom shall remain undivided. The seven almonds represent: health, happiness, fertility, wealth, long life, purity, Unity with Christ.
EXPLANATION CARD - BAPTISM - 5 almonds
Jordan almonds are a traditional Orthodox favor. The white symbolizes purity. The egg shape represents the newly baptized life. The sugar coating symbolizes the sweetness of life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as the bond between the child and Godparent shall remain undivided. The five almonds represent: health, happiness, fertility, wealth & long life.
EXPLANATION CARD - BAPTISM - 7 almonds
Jordan almonds are a traditional Orthodox favor. The white symbolizes purity. The egg shape represents the newly baptized life. The sugar coating symbolizes the sweetness of life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as the bond between the child and Godparent shall remain undivided. The five almonds represent: health, happiness, fertility, wealth, long life, purity, Unity with Christ.
How long do JORDAN ALMONDS STAY FRESH? How do you store Jordan almonds?
How long do jordan almonds stay fresh? How do you store Jordan almonds?
Jordan almonds stay fresh for a long time. The hard sugar coating provides a protective wrap that keeps the jordan almonds fresh. White jordan almonds keep fresh for about 6 months – and can be sold commercially for up to a year of age. Colored almonds (whose color may start to fade after a few months) generally last only up to 4 months. Foil-covered gold or silver almonds stay fresh for up to 4 months. However, the newer the almonds, the more flavorful and the more aromatic.
Blessed Celebration has the freshest almonds in the industry. While many places use almonds that have been on a shelf for months before they are used, we receive in new shipments of almonds nearly every two weeks. So, even if you order many weeks in advance of your event date, your almonds will be super fresh, super flavorful, and will be bursting with a fresh smell.
Jordan almonds should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct exposure to light.