What's the Difference Between a Christening and a Blessing?

Every baby that is born is surely a blessing but there are a few differences with the ways that we affirm that surety. There are different customs and traditions that are followed, especially in the Catholic and Christian Churches so it gets a little confusing.

There are two separate rituals that are followed, one called a Christening or a Baptism and the other is a Blessing, sometimes called a Thanksgiving or a Church or Baby Blessing. For those that are unfamiliar with them, the question arises: What is the difference between a Christening and a Blessing?

To deal with the similarities first, both ceremonies welcome the baby into the church. Both ceremonies also have godparents to stand in for the child being baptized. These godparents are chosen for the strong commitment they show to the Church, and also because of the close relationship they have with the parents. Godparents accept this role with the understanding that they will help and guide the child in his faith as he grows.

The Christening or Baptism is a ceremony that completely brings the baby into the Church as a Soldier of Christ. This ceremony is officiated by a priest or a minister of the Church in the church building itself. You will need to speak to the minister to confirm the details of the Christening. You may be able to only use the church on certain days and certain times of the week only. These are normally special services that are celebrated separately or privately or could be incorporated in a mass Christening that is done every month or every quarter.

The details needed for the paperwork of the Christening are the names of the godparents and the name of the baby. Usually, the minister discusses these details with you before the ceremony.

During the ceremony, which takes about twenty minutes, incorporates pledges that are answered by the godparents and then a blessing done with blessed water and ceremonial candle lighting. Catholic Christenings add a ritual of anointing the baby with blessed oil and eating blessed salt. Expect that the baby will cry; the water is usually rather cool and babies really don't like salt.

Church or baby blessings are ceremonies that welcome newcomers (in this case, the newborn) into the church and as part of the community but not as full-fledged members that are introduced through baptism. Usually, this is practiced by Christian sects that prefer to have the members baptized when they are old enough to understand and realize the great responsibilities they have as members of the Church.

A variation on this ceremony is the Thanksgiving, where the minister blesses the baby and also gives thanks for their safe delivery into the world. However, it's not required for the parents (or the child) to profess the faith. This is a usual option for parents with different religions, with one being a Christian and the other not.

Blessings and Thanksgivings may also be held in places other than the church. Common venues are the home, or in a large social hall where a light meal is served after the ceremonies.