Greek Baptism Traditions

A baptism is one of the most important sacraments practiced in the Greek Orthodox Church. The day somebody is baptized into the church is the day that one becomes a Christian. A Greek baptism is usually done during infancy, but can be done later in life if one decides to convert. When it comes to a baptism, there are many things to consider.

There are certain aspects of the ceremony that are necessity, meaning they are required and should be taken into consideration first, while others are tradition. The actual ceremony and the items used by the priest while performing the baptism are necessity, but the reception and celebration that usually takes place after the ceremony is tradition. Here are some traditions that are related to Greek baptisms:

Selecting a Godparent

Choosing a godparent for your baby is something that should be taken quite seriously. It’s only required that you choose one godparent that is a Greek Orthodox Christian, but you may choose to have two godparents for your child. You will want to run your choices past your priest who can help you make the perfect choice. Selecting a godparent who will be present in your child’s life and spiritual upbringing is important to factor in. Remember, it’s not the number of godparents that is important, but who will do the best job possible.

Purchase Items for the Ceremony

You can decide to keep the baptism ceremony simple or you can go all out. Whichever way you decide to go, there are things you’re going to need and it might be expensive. There are a number of traditions that go along with Greek baptisms, but you don’t need them all. Your guests will think it’s just as special if you partake in just one or two.

Traditional items that you may choose include: Martyrika (a small cross made of ribbon worn by guests, which they can keep as a favor after) and Koufeta (candy coated Jordan almonds). Sometimes a special box called a Christening Box is used to fill with the items for the priest to use during the ceremony. These items include: a white bath towel, small white hand towels, a small bar of soap, white candles (two small and one large), olive oil, a set of new white clothing, and a gold cross and chain.

These are usually the responsibility of the godparent. Christening boxes can be beautiful, but expensive. You can assemble the items in any box you choose, but check with your priest to make sure it’s appropriate for the ceremony.

Give Koufeta as a Favor

One of the traditions that is common to see at a baptism is the Koufeta that is given as a favor to guests after a baptism. Koufeta are candy coated Jordan almonds, often of varying colors, but for the baptism you may choose to go with all white. This is a sweet treat to give your guests as a thank you for witnessing the baptism of your child. You may choose to have the favor bag that the almonds go into personalized. There are many affordable options available. You can add the date of your child’s baptism to the bag along with their name.

A Greek baptism ceremony is a special occasion to be celebrated. Whether you decide to go all out or keep it simple, remember the true meaning of the day.