Candles are often an important part of the baptism ceremony. Depending on the traditions of the church in which your child is christened, you may be given a special candle which then becomes a keepsake, or parents or godparents may be asked to provide a candle for the ceremony.
Candles, symbolising light or fire, often play an important part of the baptism ceremony.
When providing your own candle, it’s possible to arrange a personalised candle. You should first check with your church to find out if there are any special requirements for the candle – does it need to be made from certain materials, or be a particular colour or size? For example, some churches require that candles are made from a particular percentage of beeswax.
Often, retailers offer to provide personalised christening candles which include the baby’s name, the date of the christening and the name of the godparents. Some can even include a photograph of the baby or perhaps a special verse, biblical passage or prayer.
The baptismal candle is important in the christening ritual in many churches. For example, in the Greek Orthodox christening ritual, three candles must be supplied by the godparents, with the main candle (called Lambathe) usually a large decorated baptismal candle.
In some churches, such as the Catholic Church, a large “Paschal” candle is lit in a important Easter ceremony.
The Paschal Candle is decorated with a cross, the Greek symbols of alpha and omega and the numerals of the current year. Lit on Holy Saturday, the Paschal candle remains alight throughout Easter until Ascension Thursday and is then lit again only for funerals and for christenings, when it is used to light a ceremonial candle.
The candle lit from the Paschal candle during the christening ceremony is then used to light a special christening candle, which is given to the child’s parents. Some churches suggest that the same candle is then used in future religious ceremonies, such as the christened person’s wedding and their funeral.
Even where there are no requirements by your church to re-use the baptism candles, there are some families who choose to light their child’s baptismal candle each birthday, or on the anniversary of the christening.
Some families choose to order a number of personalised miniature baptism candles to give to each guest who attends the christening celebration, as bomboniere.
This article was written by Fran Molloy, www.ultraverse.com.au, journalist and mum of four