A Baptism is a big event in the life of a Greek Orthodox family when it is the beginning and entry into the Church. There are three sacraments in the ceremony – the Baptism, Chrismation or Confirmation and Communion. We have attached two pages to help give a little historical, information and explanation of the traditional Baptismal Ceremony including symbolism and meanings.
A little History, Information and Explanation of the Baptismal Ceremony
Usually the sacrament takes place after the first 40 days and within the first year of the baby’s life. The parents should carefully pick the godparent(s) that will best sponsor and continue to make sure that the child will grow up to be faithful to God and the Greek Orthodox Church. The godparent(s) have a spiritual responsibility that they take on the day they baptize a child. The duties of the godparent(s) do not stop after the ceremony but marks the beggining in helping the baby grow within his/her faith. The godparent(s) must offer to their Godchild a gift on their Nameday and an Easter Candle every year thereafter (usually until they reach early adulthood). In Greece, it is customary also for the godparent(s) on every Easter to buy a new pair of shoes for the child. For this reason, it is important that godparents be chosen not because they are family, friends or for social reasons, but because they are persons who love God and His Church and will love your child and give good wishes to your child always. For the sacrament of Baptism, the godparent(s) must have the following items at the church:
Set of Lathopana, Undergarments & Oil Set
- 1 large white/ivory towel (for the baby to be wrapped in)
- 1 large white/ivory oil sheet (for the baby to be wrapped in)
- 1 set of baptismal undergarments (worn after the ceremony, under the baptismal outfit) which are considered sacred and must be kept safely. Once the baby’s baptismal outfit and lathopana are washed the water should only be used to water flowers or a tree.
- 1 small bottle of olive oil (for the priest to pour into the baptismal water)
- 1 bar of soap (for the priest and godparent(s) to wash their hands with after the baptism)
- 2 small white/ivory towels (1 for the priest and1 for the godparents to dry their hands after the ceremony)
- 3 lambathes/candles (1 large and 2 smaller candles matching the large one)
- A baptismal outfit, shoes and socks
- A gold Cross on a chain (for the baby to wear after Chrismation)
- A keepsake box or bag (to put all/most of the above)
- Martirika/Christening Witness Pins (that will be given to the guests attending the ceremony)
- Favors (given to the guests attending the ceremony)
The Baptism is usually followed by a party at the home of the parents, restaurant or at a reception hall paid for by the parents including food and centerpieces.
We hope this helped you understand a little about the Baptismal Ceremony but should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask us.