A small gift sometimes is given to a child's godparents at the occasion of the child's christening. The gift is not required or expected; it is more traditional for godparents to give their godchild christening gifts. Some families make a tradition of presenting the godparents with a religious medallion, a crucifix or another memento to honor the occasion.
The tradition of godparents began when fourth-century Christians were concerned about persecution from non-Christians and required new members to be sponsored by existing members of the church. By the year 800, when infants were commonly baptized to Christianity, a sponsor for an infant came to be called "patrinus," or godfather.
A gift given to godparents at a christening is a symbol of thanks for their religious guidance, their closeness to the family and the trust placed in them. Because godparents are entrusted with the child's spiritual and faith development, a gift to them is representative of an appreciation of their knowledge and ability.
A religious or inspirational book, CD or DVD can be an appropriate gift for godparents. A personal gift idea is for the child's parents to write a letter of appreciation to the godparents emphasizing their trust in them, their strength and faith, and the love the parents hold for the godparents. A nice dinner, a small religious-themed gift or a framed photo of the godparent with the child are all thoughtful christening gifts for godparents as well.
With most gift-giving occasions, the giver has a few days after the event to present gifts to parties involved. However, it's best to have a gift ready at the baptismal ceremony or before it. If you must, give the godparents a christening gift up to a week after the christening. Keep in mind that the further you get from the event, the less socially acceptable it is to present a gift.
Take into account the godparents. If they simply would not enjoy gifts with religious significance or have so many religious items that you could not give them something meaningful, turn to a more personal option for a gift, such as a photo or letter. If they are of a different denomination or religion than the parents, be sure your gift is appropriate in their religious tradition as well.
A christening gift to the godparents is not necessary. If a gift is not part of your christening planning, take the time to thank the godparents. Be sure they know what's expected of them, both during the baptism ceremony and throughout the child's life.
- the newborn image by Sergey Galushko from Fotolia.com