It is a common missunderstanding that the christening, is giving a name, but that is not quite right. In Sweden the name is registered by the tax authority, if you have a christening or not. The name the family take to the church, where it is told to the church and the world. A christening is a concrete way of beeing added into the community of the church and God.
The christening in the swedish church is not a namegiving ceremony, but the church do not send anyone away. If someone is not very religious, but feels comfort from having a christening from family reason, or tradtion, the church is always welcoming. If the family prefers a non religious ceremony of namegiving (not in the church) it is a possible choice. Using a Christening robe, gown, to a non religious ceremony is fully possible neverthless.
"Full authory in Heaven and on earth has been comitted to me. Go forth therfore and make all nations my disciples; babtise men everywhere in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And be assured, I am with you always, to the end of the time."
"They brought children for him to touch; and the disciples scolded them for it. But when Jesus saw this he was indignant, and said to them, `Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you, whoever does not accept the kiongdom of God like a child will never enter it.´ And he put his arm round them, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them."
In the christening is Gods promise, to follow you during all days of life, no matter what happens. Through all church history the christening has been the visual confirmation of every humans natural affinity with God, and the christening service a celebration of joy and life.
(The swedish church)
The christening robe is often white, symbolising the colour of purity. The robe is far to long for the child, a symbol that the child has growing in front of it, in life and in the christening. The child has a lot to learn of God and beliving. Later in life, the confirmation helps the child to understand what the christening was about. The white confirmation robe is a symbol for the christening robe, now fitting.
Many families have an inherited christening robe, used from all the children in the family. Sometimes the name of the child and date of the christenings are embroidered at the robe.
In many churches there are christening robes to lend. Contact your church.
(The swedish church)
As the christianity came and christening, we also got godmothers and godfathers. They gave gifts, and a concrete responsibility of the child in case the parents would die. The gifts could be some land or someting, that was the childrens own from then on.
style="font-size: small;">As godmothers and godfathers gave gifts, it was good having lots of them. 1664 the law came saying chirstening gifts were forbidden, if not given to the poor. That did not work out well, and the law was changed to maximum six silvercoins from each one. Children of noble birth were allowd to have maximum nine godparents, children of priests and the burgess six. The peasants had already only two or three godparents.
The mother was forbidden to enter the church at time for the christening, after giving birth. She had to be "taken back" first. The godmother, or someone of the godparents, was carrying the child to the christening. Imagine not to be allowed to be present at the christening of ones child!
("Dopgåvan" Jan-Öjvind Swahn, "Att leva tillsammans". 1979)
An old legend i Europe tells that the midwife picks the boys from under a blue head of cabbage, and the girls from under a pink rosebud. It may have someting to do with the blue and pink belts or rosettes at the christening robes.
Every year are ca 62% of the newborns in Sweden christened, in the swedish church. Not christened youths, taking part in the confirmation, are christened before the confirmation ceremony. the swedish church also offers adults not christened, education and christening.
It does not exist a special age for christening. In Sweden it is common to be christened as a child, baby. Some parents want it to take part as soon as possible, other waits some months. The christening of a child is a sign of the boundlessness, it is a gift that is given without demands.