Etiquette & superstition: baptism/christening

Depending on whom you ask, a christening and an infant baptism are either the same thing or two different things that happen at the same ceremony. Something something naming ceremony vs. pledging allegiance to God something something. It seems there is not a lot of etiquette attached to baptisms, and not a lot of superstition attached to christenings, so I’m combining the two just like they do at the christening ceremony. The baptism ceremony. Whatever.

ETIQUETTE: Do not ask anyone other than an intimate friend or family member to be your child’s godparent, because it is theoretically a big responsibility to be a godparent, and a person is not allowed to decline a request to be a godparent. A female baby gets two godmothers and one godfather, and a male baby gets two godfathers and one godmother. At the christening, when the clergyperson asks the godmother for the name of the baby, the godmother only says the child’s first and middle name, and she had better say it loudly and clearly so the clergyperson pronounces it correctly. If the clergyperson says the name wrong, that mispronunciation is the kid’s name for life. Sorry. Ha ha.

SUPERSTITION: A baby should be baptized as soon as possible to protect it from evil fairies, who want nothing more than to steal the baby and replace it with a changeling. Before the child is baptized, the only way to protect it from fairies is to make it wear its father’s clothes, or to put a lot of stuff in its crib, particularly garlic, bread, salt and a piece of steel if it is a Danish baby, and horehound, black cumin, marjoram, a right shirtsleeve and a black stocking (left foot) if it is a German baby. A baby who dies before being baptized is doomed to become a yeth-hound, which is a hound without a head that roams the woods at night wailing loudly. How a yeth-hound is able to wail loudly without a head is not explained.

Photo by rhondda.p on Flickr

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