My good friend was recently invited to a Christening in the Greek Orthodox Church. Being her token authentic Greek Friend, she asked “Now what?”
As she is not a part of the Church, I need to confirm with her that anyone who is close to the family may be asked to attend. And since these are friends she has known and worked with for years, it wasn’t surprising that she received an invitation. That being said, I did feel obliged to help her with some social conventions she should keep in mind now that she i invited to the ceremony.
So, for my friend and anyone else reading this blog, here are a few tips for Greek Christening etiquette for guests.
Whether you receive an invitation to attend a Greek Christening, or any other formal event with a reception that follows, pay attention to the RSVP date. This information is important for the people planning the event - for the space needed and the budgeting You need to respond as it is simply bad etiquette to ignore any RSVP.
Although my friend wasn’t offered the honor of becoming a Godparent, it is just that, quite an honor and their request should be taken seriously. As a single man, I have been offered the honor but turned it down. It was important for me to understand what was expected, and I did some research by calling some family members. There’s more than the roles played at the Christening, since the Godparents are responsible for buying the items for the ceremony, including the candles and the cross. But the fact that I would have the essential role of being responsible for the child’s spiritual well being. I felt it would be best, based upon my lifestyle, to decline.
Once you have RSVP’d that you are attending the Christening and the reception to follow, it is customary to give the child a gift. If you aren’t one of the Godparents, don’t give the child anything that should be used in the ceremony such as the cross or the Christening outfit. This is the sole responsibility of the godparent unless the child’s parents reach out to you specifically.
For others ,it is fairly customary to give a Greek themed item or a religious item such as an icon of the child’s saint, for example. Of course, you could go mainstream and purchase:
- A personalized frame
- A china breakfast set
- A personalized ceramic Christmas ornament
- Bunny ear hangers, or
- Child’s trug
And then there is the evergreen gift of giving the child money. Most parents start a savings account for the child to keep the money safe until he gets older.
Greek churches are fairly formal. The women wear tasteful dresses, skirts, and formal pantsuits. Some churches, however, don’t allow the women to wear pants so make a quick call to the church’s office to confirm that you conform. For men, business casual or a business suit is preferred attire. Wearing the right outfit is a sign of respect.
In short, when you are invited to a Greek Christening here is the short list to note what is expected of you:
- Sending out your RSVP promptly,
- Dressing properly for the ceremony, and
- Selecting a great gift
One last suggestion, unless your Greek is top notch and you’re familiar with the ceremony you might want to Google it beforehand. This will not only help you enjoy the event but you may help other ‘non-Greeks’ understand it as well.
Pt 2 will be forthcoming next week - teaser - it’s about FOOD!