You have been invited to a christening in Norway but have no clue on what’s expected? This is a small introduction, from the ceremony, the role of the god parent to what to wear and what gifts to get!
What does it mean to be a godparent in Norway?
If you have been invited to be a god parent, congratulations! It’s a great honour and it means the parents regard you as someone they would want in their child’s life, as an extra guardian, supporter and influential person.
The traditional task of a godparent was once to religiously educate the child. However this would be seen as a rarity nowadays.
A good godparent should remember birthdays and Christmas, at least until 18 years of age. You may also want to acknowledge milestones such as the godchild’s first day in school and so on. In general, show an interest and form a relationship, similar to what an uncle and aunt would do.
The year the child is turning 15 you may be invited to the confirmation, where you should do a speech to your godchild. You might want to find out more about a Norwegian confirmation, here.
At what age is the baby christened?
In the Middle Ages it was believed that if the baby died without being christened its soul would be lost forever. Therefor it was punishable by law to have your child christened within eight days after birth. Although this law was abolished in 1771 the thumb of rule up until more modern times was to have your child christened within three days.
Nowadays most Norwegian parents would have their babies christened when the baby is between 3 – 5 months old.
When christening our firstborn we were honoured to be able to use the family christening silk dress with matching bonnet, dating back to early 1900s. Upon inspection of the delicate outfit we soon realised that if we wanted to use the dress and bonnet we could not delay the christening as the outfit was in a newborn size.
What happens on the day of the christening?
The christening or baptism is part of a church ceremony, similar to christening in other christian or catholic countries. Usually there would be two godparents, but some parents will have chosen more. The godparents will have to sit in front in church, together with the parents and the child, as they will be asked to come up when the child will be baptised with water.
Following the church ceremony there’s usually a lunch or drinks reception to celebrate.
What to wear to a Norwegian christening
Men may wear dark suit, shirt, with or without tie. Women may wear daytime yet elegant knee length dresses, two-piece skirt and blazer or similar. Hats are not common but appreciated.
Gift Ideas for Norwegian christenings
Traditional christening gifts
- Silver children’s cutlery
- Silver baby cup
- Children’s fine dinner set
- Children’s jewellery
- Collectable wooden or soft toys (Kaj Bojesen)
More gift ideas…
- Fruit tree crop
- Pocket knife with name engraved
- The babys first jewellery box
- Money for savings account
- Moomin mug or children’s tableware
- Anything wool and hand knitted
- Classic children’s books
The gifts will range in value from 500,- nok and upwards, depending on how close you are to the child. It’s perfectly fine to ask for a wish list, which will give you an idea as well.
Last but not least, remember to congratulate the parents after the church service, in Norwegian: “Gratulerer med dåpsbarnet!”