Sarah is busy squirreling away with the function and layout of our new website. It’s all very exciting and is looking fabulous already. Well done Sarah! Tweeking to be finished very soon!
As we have introduced a new section to the new, sleek website called “Special Occasions” I thought I better do my research about what is traditional and appropriate for a Christening gift. All I knew was silver was always a suggested gift but I have never known the reasoning behind it. So I set about looking up exactly what, why, when!
In the similar way that couples getting married are given a Trousseau (a bottom drawer gift) or money for there new life together, Christening or Baptism gifts were given with the same agenda. A small token of money or a gift with a value was given as investment for the child as he or she grew. Many people know the tradition of giving a half a sixpence or a lucky sovereign to a child as a suggestion of a nest egg.
However there are many many other traditions in the UK that we can follow if we choose to.
The Victorians strongest influence on traditional gifts was again the emphasis of the “token” of a gift of financial value, therefore introducing the silver sterling gift. Many gifts of this time were eggcups, spoons, napkin rings and cutlery all in silver sterling.
The tradition of the silver tankered or christening cup dates back to an earlier tradition of drinking vessels in Northern Europe.
The tradition that I am most accustomed to is the giving of a silver spoon at a Christening or Baptism. This originates from the Tudor time when an Apostle spoon, a spoon with a figure of one of the Apostle’s on the handle, was given. This is thought to be the origin of the phrase “born with a silver spoon in your mouth”
But the tradition of giving a gift to a little one for their naming ceremony dates back even further then that. The importance of Marriage, Death, Birth and coming of age in pre-Christian Europe were all given as equal importance as the changing of the seasons. As a very new religion of Christianity developed, it adopted many pagan traditions like Christmas and the Easter, all coinciding with the pagan traditions of Saturnalia, Winter Solstice and Spring equinox. The pagans also had a tradition of giving new born's gifts that precedes the well-known story we all know of the three Wise men giving Gold Frankincense and Myrrh. In the pagan story of Magi in their Christmas story, the gift given to the new born child were the same gifts given to Christ, and date back a lot further than the birth of Christ.
Now please don’t be scared. As a non-believer myself, I just like to know the reasoning behind traditions and then choose whether to follow them. If for you the above has some other symbolic meaning, fantastic.
But what I think this shows us more importantly is that new born's and little ones are meant to be treasured and celebrated because even though they squawk a lot, they are VERY special. And really any gift, in my opinion, is suitable as long as it is chosen and given with love.
So if you choose to keep to tradition and choose a silver spoon or a simple hand knitted teddy you can rest assured that it is received and loved in the true spirit it is given with.