My First Christening

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Posted by chelsea

Yesterday was George's christening. I've only witnessed baptisms in a Church of Christ, so I'd been looking forward to being a part of this particular Greek Orthodox tradition. I was the only non-Greek there, so it was hard to not stand out as I stood to the side before the ceremony began. Thankfully, I'd already met about half of the attendees, so I didn't feel too much like an outsider.

The church was a beautiful white domed building with lots of gold and religious art gracing the incense-filled walls on the inside. We settled into our seats as the bearded priest began to recite verses and phrases in Ancient Greek, accompanied by another priest chanting in a monotone voice behind him.

After quite a long bout of this chanting and reciting, the godmother was required to read a passage of Ancient Greek as well as the priest prepared the water (blessing it) for the baptism. George was then stripped down and held by his mother as the priest anointed him with oil. Following the anointing, George was handed over to the priest, who dipped him down into the water three times. Being the beach baby that he is, George giggled and splashed around happily, even attempting to dive back into the water after he was pulled out. The priest then cut a small section of his hair off (traditionally, they never cut the hair of the baby until their christening).

The godmother then took him and dried him, and the parents put his official baptism clothing on (an oversized suit of white linen, complete with a bonnet and cap...which resulted in him looking like a smaller version of the Michelin Man). From then on, the ceremonial part was pretty much over and some formalities were taken care of before we all headed over to the cafe nearby for the reception.

At the reception, George was handed off to me to feed him and walk him in the stroller so that he'd take a nap. After successfully getting him to eat without a large orange stain resulting on his bright white suit, it took me only five minutes to get the little fellow to sleep and I was free to socialize as well.

I found the tables with a few of the families I'd gotten to know while we were on Skopelos together and sat with them. Now that I'm an "honorary parent" (someone who takes the full responsibility of the kids without actually physically having them), I get along quite easily with other parents, which is great and scary at the same time. My ability to relate to other parents with children of similar ages at least provides me with some conversation at events such as this, but all of the sudden, I find myself not bored that these people are talking about their kids constantly, but interested as well as willing to share my own stories and experiences.

The reception lasted quite a while, but as the children of other families grew tired and cranky, the crowd dwindled down until at last it was just the five of us slumped at a table, with ten pieces of leftover cake in front of us. I ate two, sharing a few bites here and there with Alkistis, and we talked about how the day had gone. Natasha and John were both really pleased at the success of the day, and I mentioned how I had looked completely out of place, being the only blonde-haired green-eyed girl, not to mention the only one under thirty other than the kids. Laughing, they agreed that yes, I did stand out in my looks, but that everyone loved me.

It was at that moment that I realized this whole time, I've not only been on trial to impress the family I work for, but their extended family as well as all of their friends. These are Greeks in fact, and the opinions and feelings of their friends and extended family mean just as much as their own, so to have learned that they all "love me" absolutely made my day.

Two weeks from now, their friends have a christening for their little girl and have invited me along, so I'm excited to get to go to another one so soon. It seems that most of their friends have kids around the same age, so there's a "christening season" going on right now (John and Natasha are at another today in fact). To me, they are comparable to a wedding in the states, with just as many details and costs involved. More than anything, it's just a big traditional ceremony and an excuse for a party with all of your friends.

As long as there's cake, that's just fine by me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i love it chels.