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Celebrate Renewal and Rebirth
by Helen Marakis

The celebration of renewal and rebirth, both of the body and the spirit is a deeply-held Orthodox tradition. From the ancient festivals of the equinox to the observance of Easter, all Orthodox faiths bear joyful and solemn witness of the earth's reawakening. And nowhere is the celebration of rebirth more joyous in custom than in the sacrament of baptism.

Within the first year of a child's life (and usually within the first six months), the family prepares for the baptismal ceremony. Since this will be the most important occasion in the child's life, much planning is necessary to make the observance "just right." Invitations are sent, food is prepared, and flowers are arranged for the festive occasion.

The first, and perhaps the most important, decision made before the ceremony is the selection of godparents or a godparent. In Orthodox Christian tradition, this isn't merely a social choice but it is a sacred one. The godparent performs a vital part of the baptism and in the spiritual life of the child, so the decision must be made with care.

By tradition, the baptismal ceremony begins at the door of the church. The threshold of the church signifies the "old life" and the altar or fount symbolizes the place where the "new life" begins. Upon entering the church, the child is undressed and wrapped in a snowy white towel - symbolically "putting away" the old. As the family looks on, myrrh (an oil blessed by the Patriarch) is placed in the cupped palms of the godparent. The priest dips his finger into the oil and anoints the baby in the sign of the cross. Then, as a sign of spiritual cleansing, the child is dipped three times in water.

After cutting three small locks of hair from the child, the priest will bless the new clothes chosen especially for the occasion. These special baptismal garments are symbolic of "putting on" a new spiritual life and are an essential part of the ritual. They add a touch of elegance to the baby's special day.

Attired in new clothes, the godparent holds the child as radiant candles are lit. Each parent and godparent is given a candle to hold and together walk around the fount three times in a symbolic dance of joy! Candles commemorating this occasion must be special to honor this important event. Most celebrants pick candles that are incredibly detailed, beautifully made and meticulously decorated to match their theme or preference colors.

As the honored guests leave the church, they pin a martirika (or matryrika - a "sign of witnessing") on their lapel to signify that they have witnessed this wonderful milestone. Adorable christening witness pins add the final touch to the celebration of the baptism of the child. You can customize these pins to your specifications to give your child the best in quality and appearance for this glorious occasion.

The welcoming of a child into the Orthodox spiritual community is a cause for great celebration. That child becomes the heir to centuries of tradition, ritual and history. But, you don't have to be Orthodox in order to commemorate your child's baptism with candles, christening witness pins and baptismal clothing. Your child deserves a unique baptismal ceremony, alive with your own personal touch - exquisite and "one-of-a-kind" high quality keepsakes that will reflect your taste, make your guests admire your touch of class, show your deepest appreciation for their participation and make your special day even more memorable.

An elegant and unique idea to commemorate your baby's baptism is to create a beautiful canvas reproduction album featuring your favorite baptismal photograph and embellished with fine Swarovski crystals. It will turn your ordinary photo into a masterpiece and ensure the memories will last forever! These items are works of art that will bring a lifetime of aesthetic joy.

If you want your child's baptismal occasion to reflect your own creative tastes, find that special place that will customize those unique items to match your vision. Baptism favors, christening witness pins, ceremony candles, baptismal underwear, boxes and decorations are only limited by your imagination. Mix and match colors and designs to create the exclusive touches that will keep the memories of this special event alive forever!

See Also:

Connecting to the Christ Energy
The following technique can be used as an introduction to prayer or meditation or a meditation in itself.

Do You Experience God?
We experience God when our deepest intention is to be loving rather than controlling. Inner emptiness is the result of not experiencing God due to controlling behavior.

Why Is The Resurrection Significant?
It is through Christ's death and resurrection that we are able to receive eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ.

Copyright 2004, Helen Marakis

You can start your own family tradition by visiting the Portara Gallery at http://www.portara.com.

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