A christening gown, also known as a baptismal gown, is a dress-like garment that a baby of either gender wears when they are baptized into the Christian faith. Although it’s not required that your baby wear one of these gowns, they have wonderful symbolism and might make the baptism even more meaningful for you and your family.
The Meaning Behind the Gowns
The meaning behind christening gowns goes back to the heart of the Christian gospels. According to Christian doctrine, man was created blameless and free of sin. In the Garden of Eden, however, the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, fell prey to the Devil and succumbed to temptation, eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge that God had forbidden to them. As a result, sin was able to enter the world, and God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden.
Many years later, in mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as a Messiah or Savior. Despite the fact Jesus was blameless, John the Baptist baptized Him in the Jordan River as a sign of Jesus’ repentance. After the baptism, the Holy Spirit descended onto Jesus, and John and Jesus’ disciples began to call all believers to be washed free from sin to start a new, eternal life with God. Jesus was crucified for His teachings and died on the cross, taking onto Himself every wrong that was and would be so that God would grant all people forgiveness. After three days, He rose from the dead, conquering death, sin and the Devil once and for all.
Remembering this story, traditionally, a christening gown is a shade of white in color. This hue is meant to remind others at the christening of how Christ died to wash away sin. It symbolizes not just purity, but a renewed innocence bought with an incredibly loving sacrifice. People who baptize infants in christening gowns usually believe that the ceremony directly connects the baby to the Holy Spirit and God, marking him or her as forgiven and saved. They typically cite scriptures such as Mark 16:16 as a basis for this belief.
The Christening Gown as an Heirloom
As Little Doves explains, Christening gowns became especially popular in the Victorian period. During this time, ornate designs and fabrics were fashionable. Subsequently, people made baptismal gowns from fine fabrics like silk, decorating them with intricate embroidery. These were somewhat expensive, however, and the gowns took significant skill and time to finish. Most families would keep the christening gown from their first child to use with future children to make things easier and more affordable. Eventually, other fabrics like cotton became more popular, but the general ornateness of the gowns’ designs has not changed, as the gowns available from OneSmallChild.com show. People today still keep their babies’ christening gowns as keepsakes and pass them down to grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on, even if they can afford more than one garment.
Christening gowns are beautiful garments full of symbolism. They represent the core of Christianity, inviting others to remember Jesus and have a relationship with Him. Although you may buy one gown for each child you have, it is more than acceptable to treat one as an heirloom.