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  1. #1
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    Default Gift for Greek Orthodox baptism?

    A good friend is having her child baptized and we're invited. I've never been to a Greek Orthodox service, etc. Suggestions for a nice/appropriate gift? For other baptisms we've given money, a baby bible, book of bible stories, etc. Not sure if that's what is done in this case and I think it's tacky to ask her.

    Thanks for your suggestions!
    Last edited by 4Myluvbugs; 07-14-2010 at 02:42 PM.

  2. #2
    lizzywednesday is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Why would it be different?

    The only thing I really do know about Eastern & Greek Orthodox churches' habits is that they do Easter with a lot more "oomph" than my experience in the Catholic church! (Additionally, I feel they do a better job of emphasizing the relationship between the Promise of the Resurrection and the everyday practice of Christianity, but I get a lot of that opinion from my dad.)
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    Liz
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  3. #3
    scrooks is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    I think the gifts tend to be the same. I have a very close friend who is Greek Orthodox and I've seen her give $$ quite often at baptisms.

    I've never been to a Greek baptism (but I have been to 2 very big fat Greek weddings! ) but from what my friend has mention they tend to be pretty big deals!
    DD 7/07
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  4. #4
    ha98ed14 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    We are Eastern Orthodox. Russian, actually, but its pretty much the same except for the food at the potlucks. Money would be appropriate, or anything that you would give as a non-religious "welcome baby" gift would be fine too (clothes, blanket, age appropriate toy). If you wanted to go ultra, you could find something with the words "Those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia." That is the chant that the priest and choir sing as the child is processed around the baptismal font. Although, if the service is in Greek, you won't know that is what they are saying. (All our services are in English. No one speaks Russian at my church, but some Greek churches still do the services in Greek.)

    If you are close to the family, an icon with the child's patron saint would be very appropriate. This is actually the most traditional gift, but few non-Orthodox know about it. So if DC's name was Andrew, you would give an icon like this: http://www.ionianvillage.org/program/saints/andrew
    You can find these on line or in an Orthodox bookstore. Often there will be a bookstore attached to the church if it is a large church or a Cathedral. Just do a google image search for "icon saint _Child's Name_".

    Or you could go with a Guardian Angel Icon. Those are very nice too. http://www.holytrinitystore.com/guar...ngel-2041.html That would be very appropriate if you wanted to give an icon but were fuzzy on the child's baptismal name. For example, there is no Orthodox Saint Jennifer, so a parent might choose a related name for the saint, Saint Genevieve, or give the saint's name as a middle name.

    I think there are lots of non-Orthodox things that you could choose that would be fine. The things to avoid would be anything overly cartoonish. I know that is hard to describe, but things like statues of Jesus rocking a cradle or precious moments bibles. Something like this is not appropriate :http://www.stjudeshop.com/product/je...sports-statue/ because it basically says "Jesus is a regular guy," which kind of doesn't wash with the Orthodox perspective, but that is probably more information that you are asking about here. Anyway, HTH!
    Mommy to my One & Only 05.07

  5. #5
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    I was raised Catholic in a Greek Orthodox/Catholic "interfaith" marriage. Money is fine, icons are always appreciated, children's Bible stories are fine. Other appropriate gifts would be religious medals and clothing. The only real difference with the baptism is that the Orthodox do full immersion baptism (and the child takes first communion, is baptized and is confirmed all at once), so they wait until the baby is a toddler, typically.

    Also, just heads up that about half if not more of the service will be in Greek. Russian Orthodox services in the US tend to be OCA (Orthodox Church of America) so they are all English, but the Greek services are half/half.
    Michelle
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  6. #6
    ha98ed14 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by michellerw View Post
    I was raised Catholic in a Greek Orthodox/Catholic "interfaith" marriage. Money is fine, icons are always appreciated, children's Bible stories are fine. Other appropriate gifts would be religious medals and clothing. The only real difference with the baptism is that the Orthodox do full immersion baptism (and the child takes first communion, is baptized and is confirmed all at once), so they wait until the baby is a toddler, typically.

    Also, just heads up that about half if not more of the service will be in Greek. Russian Orthodox services in the US tend to be OCA (Orthodox Church of America) so they are all English, but the Greek services are half/half.
    She's right. Russians have their services in English. Greeks still retain a lot of Greek language in their services. Also, Russians tend to do infant baptism, but Greeks do toddlers. I'm not sure why, it just tends to be that way. But it is not unheard of for Greek children to be baptized as infants and Russians to be baptized and toddlers.
    Mommy to my One & Only 05.07

  7. #7
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    I am Greek Orthodox and I would agree with most of what was recommended by ha98ed14 and michellerw. I will add a couple of things:

    1. If the baby is a girl, jewelry is also a very common and appropriate gift.

    2. Cash is by far the most common gift.

    3. For Greeks, baptism is a very big deal and depending on where you are in the country the parents may celebrate the baptism after the church ceremony with a reception that rivals that of a wedding.

    4. Icons are a tricky gift. For me, icons are not a gift that you can just tuck away somewhere. I think they really should be "displayed". That being said, I do not want to hang more than one icon in each bedroom and do not have icons hanging anywhere else in my house besides the bedrooms. If I got a bunch of icons at one of my children's baptisms I would have found it frustrating. (My sister on the other hand probably would have no problem. She has multiple icons all over her house.) That being said, I have seen icons given as presents at baptisms generally from a limited set of people - very close relatives (like grandparents), ultra religious relatives, the godparents and the priest's family (if they are invited to the reception). They are not usually given by friends or more extended family members.

  8. #8
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    We're Greek Orthodox and can only respond from our North East perspective. Money is by far the most popular gift. We were also given a cross (you'd want to purchase an orthodox cross) and little baptismal pins also. I really like the baptismal pins as I always worry about necklaces being a choking hazard on little kids. I'd go with cash unless you're uncomfortable.

    Most baptisms are big parties, even if it's a big party in the church basement. As someone already posted, it's also the baby's first communion. So, it's a big celebration.

    It's a big enough deal that it hasn't been uncommon, in my experience, for the mom to have her hair done in a salon on the day of the ceremony.

    FWIW, my experience has been with all infants being baptized. My relatives were really unhappy that I waited until our first was 9 months to baptize her. I was so traumatized by her hating being immersed that our second has yet to be baptized at 5. I think my relatives assume we secretly baptized her and didn't invite them because they just can't handle the idea of her not being baptized yet. So, I think the toddler generality might be a regional thing. Don't really know, though.

    Dh who is not GO finds the whole ceremony a bit hocus pocusish with all the incense and ritual, but I love it because I was raised in it. It can be a little long, and ours our about 90% in Greek. After the baby is baptized, they'll dress him/her and then take them up for communion.

    I'm sure you'll have a great time at the party. Lots of dancing and good food. The ones we've been to even have favors like wedding favors. I still have the little pin with the date of my birth and baptism that were given out at my baptism :-)

  9. #9
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    We are GO and we just baptized our son two weeks ago. Almost all of the 100 guests were Greek and we got two kinds of gifts - checks and clothes. I was surprised we didn't get one religious-themed gift at all.

    Just to share my experience, I have seen tons of Precious Moments, cartoony-themed Jesus gifts at Orthodox baptisms. They are also often the favor too.
    DS1 - 11/09
    DS2 - 7/11

  10. #10
    kms00 is offline Copper level (50+ posts)
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    Lots of good advice already. My husband's family is Greek Orthodox and by far the most common gift for them is money.

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