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Births and cristenings

When a child is born its parents may wish to announce the birth in a national or local newspaper. The announcement may read as follows:

Smith. On February 12th, 1963, at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, to Mary, wife of James Smith, 15 Blank Terrace, S. W. 3, a daughter. (The name can be added in brackets.)


The birth must be registered at the local registrar's office within six weeks in England and Wales and three weeks in Scotland. A child is usually christened in the first six months of its life.

At the christening there is one godmother and two godfathers for a boy and vice versa for a girl (but no godparents are necessary at a Church of Scotland christening). The godmother always holds the baby during the ceremony and gives it to the clergyman just before he baptizes it. She makes the responses* during the ceremony and tells the clergyman the names when asked. The true role of godparents is to watch over the spiritual welfare of their godchildren until confirmation,** or at least to show interest in them throughout their childhood.

* (response - in Church, words said or sung by the people in reply to the priest.)

** (confirmation - ceremony in later childhood or adolescence whereby the person becomes a full member of the Church.)

Usually, but by no means always, the friends and relatives give a christening present. Traditionally, the godparents give a silver cup, which is probably going to be far more useful if it is a beer mug! Other presents should preferably be something intended to last a lifetime, such as a leather-bound bible or poetry book, a silver spoon or a crystal and silver scent bottle.

(Etiquette by Martine Legge)

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