Most religions and cultures have placed importance in certain stages of a person’s life – points that mark entrances of an individual into the culture and traditions of the family. Sometimes these are religious traditions, and sometimes they are purely cultural, like the tradition of Quinceañeras or Sweet Sixteen parties.
Baptism is one of the dearest traditions for Christian families, and has been a tradition which has been carried down since the earliest days of the Christian religion – John the Baptist practiced Baptism, and in the Jewish religion there is a similar practice called Tvilah, which welcomes people in a conversion to Judaism.
Even though John the Baptist used baptism, most Christians believe that Jesus used the sacrament of baptism in a more organized form; from those days, Baptism has been a part of the Christian religion, and usually involved immersion in water or standing in water and having a vessel of the water poured over a person’s head or body.
Baptism represents a form of rebirth, a washing away of the old to be replaced by the new, and is described in some sources as a birth ‘by water and spirit’. In all instances it symbolizes a washing away of sin and worldly influences and signifies a new life as a Christian.
It is unknown exactly when the Baptism of children first began, though there is evidence that it was very early in the history of Christianity; in Acts Chapter 2 Verses 38 and 39 speak of baptism and refer specifically to children, and Tertullian, an early Christian author from Carthage who lived from around 160-225 AD also wrote of baptizing infants.
No matter exactly when the practice of Baptizing infants became widespread, it has now been part of the Christian life and religion to baptize small children in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and today remains a strong tradition in both traditional Catholic families as well as many other Christian traditions, including most Protestant churches, Orthodox churches, Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans.
Practices vary, from a sprinkling of water to actual immersion, and in some cases water being poured over the head of the person being baptized, and it is a symbol of the Lord’s love and grace washing away the sinful nature of the world.
It is now a long standing tradition, and is an important part in a Christian’s life; in most churches, there is a second baptism when a young man or woman is considered old enough to make an independent decision to dedicate their life the Christ. Both ceremonies mark important steps to individuals and families.
It has also been tradition that children be dressed in a white dress or gown during the tradition; like a wedding dress, this represents innocence to the world, an innocence which babies possess uniquely. The Baptism is a symbol of God’s love here on earth, and is a treasured moment in a baby’s life; a reason to gather in joy and love, and a time for families to gather and celebrate new life and old traditions.
When your own family performs this ancient ritual keep that in mind, and pick your baptism dresses and gowns with care because modern tradition makes this one of the dearest occasions to record this history in photographs too.
When your children are baptized, whether they are boys or girls, choose your baptism dresses and gowns with care to treasure this moment, and the photographs, for years to come!