What Happens At A Baptism

what happens at a baptism

Whether you’ve been invited to a friend’s baptism, or are planning one of your own, the following question may come to mind. What happens at a baptism? Baptisms hold meaning on many levels. The Christian ceremony of baptism, represents a sacred right of passage.

The ceremony cleanses original sin and gives us a new identity. Through the process of baptism, individuals are connected with a new community of believers and begin their journey of faith as a son or daughter of God. The ceremony incorporates powerful symbols such as water, oil, and fire.

what happens at a baptism
Photo courtesy of Jastrow via Wikipedia.

Water, Fire, and Oil  What Happens at a Baptism

The individual undergoing baptism, bathes in water. In baptism water symbolizes life, death, cleanliness, and growth. The one being baptized emerges from water rinsed of original sin, and reborn as a child of god.

During baptisms priests light the Easter candle, a large column of wax lit during the Easter Vigil. Candles in baptism represent God’s presence, enlightenment, as well as the church passing the torch of “Christian commitment” to those being baptized.

what happens at a baptism
Photo courtesy of Tom Adriaenssen.

Oil of Catechumens and Sacred Chrism are used during baptism. These oils symbolize health, comfort, protection, as well as God’s strength and favor. The oil blesses the individuals with endurance and gives them strength to resist evil down the road.

A priest uses Oil of Catechumens to adorn the individual’s chest with the sign of the holy cross. This oil is a symbol of strength. The oil adornment imparts the power to resist evil. The individual being baptized, is granted God’s strength and guidance.

A mixture of olive oil and balsam, the Sacred Chrism is placed on the crown of the head after a baptism. The scented oil sets apart the individual wearing it. The pleasant smell also symbolically attracts the presence and support of others.

A Community Develops  What Happens at a Baptism

Typically individuals are baptized very early in life. They are brought to a church by their mother and father. The baptism is administered by a priest. The priest preforms the ceremony to empower the individual with the holy spirit. Friends, family members, and the individual’s Godparents witness the ceremony.

Individuals must have at least one godparent and they can have as many as three. Typically there are two godparents dedicated to a child. Godparents are chosen by the individual’s parents. They are typically close friends or family members. In baptism, godparents are selected to take interest in the individuals upbringing and personal development. Godparents provide additional support to the child when needed.

The child creates a new connection with their godparents during baptism. A special tie is also created between the child and the church. Baptism empowers individuals with the grace of god and welcomes them to a community of believers.

A Journey of Faith Begins

After one is baptized, they are born again as a son or daughter of God. At that point they start a new life as a believer and their journey of faith begins. Through baptism, they are empowered with gods grace. They use the gifts imparted on them to resist temptation and pursue a life of faith. Baptism gives individuals guidance of the lord and church. It sets up community support and life ties for the child for years to come. After the ceremony, the baptized individuals officially become members of the church.

What happens at a baptism
Juan Simon Gutierrez, The Holy Family.


Traditionally, celebrations are held after the Baptism ceremony. Friends and family members are invited to share a meal or attend a baptism party. Gifts and salutations are shared with the recently baptized individual and their family.

If you’re attending a baptism celebration, make sure to bring your friend or family member a gift or card. Giving a simple gift shows your respect and support.  For baptism gift ideas, check out our Baptism Gifts Ideas article.  If you’re in charge of planning a baptism celebration, make sure to check out our articles regarding baptism decorations for boys and girls as well as our Baptism Favor Ideas article.

And if you’re in search of a unique way to gather friends and family for your celebration, consider creating long-lasting custom magnet invitations on Purpletrail.com. You can add photos, meaningful wording, and more to your magnets. Friends and family will love recieving news of your nearing celebration upon a custom magnet, and they will appreciate the practicality of your gift even more.

Whether you’re attending the party or planning, make sure have fun and enjoy the occasion.

what happens at a baptism
Photo courtesy of Stevendepolo via Flickr.

Traditional Gifts

Traditionally, what happens at a baptism is, individuals are gifted with an engraved silver spoon. The silver spoon is inscribed with the baptized individual’s name. This is where the phrase “born with a silver spoon in mouth” originated. If you’re interested in providing your loved one with a classic baptism gift, this is a great option.

Other great gift options include: money, quilts, bibles, or rosaries. Sentimental gifts also work nicely for this special occasion. Try sharing a family heirloom or an item that hold special meaning to you.

Godparent gift etiquette is unique. Because godparents play such an important role in baptism, they are required to bring a gift for the individual of honor. It is expected of the family performing the baptism,  to provide their godparents with a gift. This is due to the godparents willingness to take on responsibilities for their son or daughter.  For godparent ideas and information take a look at our Gifts for Godparents article.

A Successful Conclusion

Now you know what happens at a baptism and you’re prepared to participate in this special occasion. Remember to be respectful of the religious ceremony and congratulate any friends or family members involved in the sacred right of passage.

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