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Christening Gifts - A History

As you select your sterling silver Christening present, it is worth considering how gift giving has been used for thousands of years to mark special occasions and rites of passage.

In pre-Christian Europe, the importance of birth, marriage, coming of age and the changing seasons were all given added emphasis by gift giving, presents and celebrations.

As a young expanding religion, Christianity adopted many pagan customs - a policy that allowed it to be more easily adopted by local populations. So as Christmas embraced Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice, Easter coincided with the Spring Equinox and the pagan worship of the Spring goddess Eostre.

Similarly the tokens and gifts presented to the newborn child in the pagan world were soon superceded by the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh given by the Magi in the Christmas story. So, when you are told that the giving of presents to the new born child follows on from the actions of the Three Wise Men, you can justifiably point out that the custom dates back a lot further.

In the same way that presents were given in the past to married couples to set them up with both money and materials for their new life together, so Christening gifts and baptism presents were initially small items of monetary or material value that could be kept as an initial investment for the child's future. The silver sixpence or the lucky sovereign could be the start of a nest-egg to help the child gain independence in later life.

The tradition of giving Apostle Spoons has its origins in the Tudor period and is thought to be the origin of the phrase, "born with a silver spoon in his mouth."

As with many "traditions", the Victorians have had a stong influence on the range of gifts presented to a child at their Christening. The Victorians changed the emphasis from gifts of a purely financial nature to gifts of objects with an intrinsic value. Thus the gift of sterling silver was developed.

Silver egg cups, spoons, napkin rings and cutlery all appear in greater numbers in the Victorian era, whilst the most popular gift of the Christening cup or silver tankard was an adaptation of an earlier tradition dating back to the drinking vessels of Northern Europe.

Whatever Christening gift or Baptism present you choose, you are continuing a practice that has lasted many thousand years. And where better to find your present, than here at www.christeningsilver.com.