Friday, May 25, 2012

Celebrating a Baptismal Day Anniversary

A birthday at our home with younger daughter (2yr)
and her daddy
We're celebrating our oldest daughter's baptismal day this weekend. This is a distinctly Catholic practice but not a common one anymore (most people don't even know when their baptism took place) so I thought I'd take the opportunity to explain why we would choose to celebrate it and what that looks like in our family.
One of the most important goals my husband and I have for our children is that they will recognize the importance of belonging to God's family as well as our own. We celebrate each person's birthday to acknowledge how glad we are that he/she is alive, how important that person is to us, and how much we love that person. Since baptism is about being born into God's family, we treat it in many ways like another birthday. We try to communicate how glad we are that he/she is alive in Christ, how important that person's role is in the Kingdom of God, and how much we and God love that person. Both celebrations are important in our family; one for when the person was created and one for when that person became a Christian. Celebrating a baptismal anniversary is not essential in and of itself; we simply find it a useful tool, like our Jesse Tree and our Lenten practices and our Seder and our Lord's Day celebrations, to communicate to our children what is important in our family.
Making my life even simpler: the girls started decorating
their own birthday and baptismal day cakes. They have fun
and I just have to make the frosting.
Our family birthday celebrations include a meal the birthday person has chosen, a favorite dessert, a present, and a time for each of us to verbally honor the birthday girl or boy. So sometime around the anniversary of that person's baptism we do the same thing again, but the meal is always a dinner (birthday is often a breakfast) and we always have guests over. For our daughters we arrange to have their godparents over; for my husband and I we invite someone who is close to us or who has had an impact on our faith. The girls' godparents generally give them a gift on their baptismal day rather than their birthday (we give them two gifts, one for each). After dinner and before dessert we ask the baptismal person to repeat the baptismal vows (a variation of the Apostle's Creed) and we usually use Holy Water to trace a cross on the forehead (but have skipped if the guests are not Catholic and aren't comfortable with it). The Holy Water is simply regular water that has been dedicated specifically for honoring God, and in this case is a reminder for us of our baptism (but not a repeat of it). Each family member and most/all guests honor the person, saying just one or two things we appreciate about him/her.
My sister decorated this candle for our oldest.
The other side has her name. I decorated candles
for each of the rest of us, all with our names
and Christian symbols, using stickers, paper,
beads, ribbons, etc.
During the original baptism at our church, the godparent(s) are given a candle and asked to light it from the church's main candle. The priest entreats them to help the newly baptized keep the light of Christ alive in his/her heart and life. When our daughters were baptized we knew we would want to light this candle every year so we brought a thicker 3" candle, decorated, to the church. Neither my husband nor I have our original skinny candles so I decorated another couple for us to us in the home as stand-ins. During our baptismal dinner each year we light this candle with a reminder that we are to keep the light of Christ burning brightly throughout our lives.
For her special dinner my 5yr daughter has requested that we barbeque. The kids get hotdogs; she has graciously allowed me to choose a different meat for the adults. She chose chocolate cake for dessert and doesn't care what I serve up for the rest of the meal. ;-) We already gave her our present since her actual baptismal date was early in the month and the gift was a pair of sandals she gets to wear to church (she helped pick them out and will probably wear them tonight). We'll do everything mentioned above with her godparents and their children, and have a wonderful evening celebrating both her life and her faith.

No comments:

Post a Comment