Christening gifts have been given for centuries as part of the Christian ceremony to welcome a young child into Christianity and protect their soul from damnation should they not survive to adulthood. Today, it is more of a celebration of faith and the birth of a child, expanding the circle of believers. Gifts are not only given by parents to commemorate the ceremony, but also other members of the family, often including godparents; deemed the guardians of the child’s soul.
Silver is the material most traditionally used to create christening gifts; the metal was historically though to be beneficial for health due to its purity, and the intention was for the child to have a piece of valuable silver that they could sell as an adult should they fall on hard times. Furthermore, silver was associated with wealth and prosperity due to its value and appearance, and so the suggestion that the gift was intended to be sold is typically more of a last resort than an expectation. Silver christening gifts therefore signify the gift giver's desire for health and success for the child.
Usually, silver christening gifts are engraved with the initials of the recipient of the gift. The rarer, plain christening gifts are harder to come by but are valued at a higher price than their monogrammed counterparts.
Types of Christening Gifts
There are many types of christening gifts which have become traditional choices over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Antique silver spoons have become one of the most frequently given gifts, with the spoon being symbolic not only of the baby's health and growth through infancy, but also their growth throughout life.
In the second half of the Victorian period, christening sets became more elaborate. Napkin rings, egg cups, mugs, bowls, and more became involved. Silver christening mugs, the most popular of choices, have been gifted since the late 18th century. They symbolise nourishment which will help the baby grow to be healthy and strong. Silver christening mugs in particular are frequently engraved with initials of the child, a monogram or even a family crest, sometimes including the date of a child's birth or christening ceremony.
Silver napkin rings are also a popular choice of christening gift. Sets of napkin rings are often given to parents as the new child enters the family, to signify another place being set at the family dinner table.
In recent years silver frames have also become a popular choice. A portrait picture of the baby to be christened in a fine quality antique silver frame is a memorable way of showcasing this most important of religious family events.
Traditional Christening Gifts
The tradition of giving silver christening gifts finds its roots with the Tudors, and it is where the expression ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth’ originates. Victorians expanded on the practise, taking christening gifts from mostly being spoons to becoming entire breakfast sets. Over time, this has expanded further to encompass more areas of life than food, with rattles, photograph frames, and piggy banks all being made from silver as christening gifts.
Here are a few of our own traditional silver christening gifts for you to enjoy.