blessed celebration. | Greek Orthodox Baptism | South Florida

As lifestyle photographers we are invariably introduced to many religious ceremonies amongst the beautiful individuals we so dearly call our clients. We were privileged to be asked to document the baptism of little Miss Angelina in the faith of the Greek Orthodox Church. As neither Jacqueline, nor myself had bore witness to such a ceremony we learned many new traditions and practices during this incredible day.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child; many of Angelina’s closest friends and family members were in attendance to uphold the duties in the raising of this sweet girl.

We begin by introducing you to the gorgeous façade of this beautiful church. The details in every aspect of the building were pristine, bold, and colorful. The transition from outside to in brought about the feeling of a truly Holy place.

Meet Miss Angelina.

It is all in the details. The ceiling, the baptismal candles, the book of scriptures, and the baptismal font. The baptismal candles are provided by the godparent, one large decorated candle for the ceremony and smaller white candles to be carried by the children who circle the font. The traditional decoration of a baptismal candle includes a large bow of ribbon or tulle with streamers. Each detail of this day is not without merit, as you will soon witness.

While family and friends arrive, little Lina waits patiently in her father’s arms.

And so the ceremony begins. Angelina is presented to the church in it’s entryway. Family and Godparents are surrounding her as this presentation is made. She is dressed in her pre-ceremony outfit, of which, can be any color. She will later change into her baptismal clothes which must be white and completed with socks and shoes.

A somber walk leads the parents and Godparents to the front of the church where font immersion is to take place. The priest pours oil into the cupped hands of the Godparents, who then wipe oil on the child’s body. The oiled baby is then immersed three times in the baptismal font representing Christ’s baptism, death and Resurrection.

Olive oil is poured into the oil bottle and then blessed by the priest. Any 100% pure virgin olive oil can be used for the baptism. The Holy Oil is then used by the priest to baptize the child. The priest will pour the Holy Oil into the baptismal water.

After immersion, Angelina is placed into her Godparent’s arms who hold the oil sheet to protect their clothing and absorb the Holy oil on the baby. Immediately following the baptism in the font, the priest administers a second sacrament: Chrismation, where the child receives the gift of the Holy Spirit with miron, a special oil blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

A quick change into her baptismal clothes, and the lighting of the baptismal candles is next in the ritual. The dressed Lina is brought back into the church and the priest, Godparents, and baptized baby walk around the baptismal font three times.

The reading of scriptures takes place and the priest administers a third sacrament, communion, to the child.

The baptism of Angelina is complete. She is lovingly embraced by her parents and Godparent. Now the Godparent is an especially important choice. The Godparent – also known as a koumbaro (male) or koumbara (female) is responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the baptized individual. The person becomes a member of the baptized person’s family and the baptism brings about a lifelong relationship. Sweet Lina’s uncle is the blessed individual at this occasion.

A reception was held after the ceremony in honor of this oh-so-happy day! Guests were treated with boubounieres or candy favors. These are traditionally almond candy favors given to each guest after the baptism by either the godparent or the parents of the baptized child. Styles can range widely for these favors but are usually simple white, pink or blue puffs of tulle tied with a ribbon and filled with white Jordan almonds. The details and traditions of the day are simply beautiful!

Martyrika, also known as martirika, or “witness pins” – are small lapel crosses handed out at the end of the ceremony and worn by guests as proof of witnessing the baptism. The traditional pin is made of white, pink or blue ribbon and features a tiny cross or icon in the center. Angelina’s martirika were inscribed with the date of her baptism as well as the name of her Godfather.

Family and friends gather in this warm and welcoming home, complete with amazing food and sweets. Each guest takes a turn snuggling and loving on their precious Angelina.

A huge thank you goes out to the parents of Miss Angelina, Gavin and Maria, for entrusting us to capture this most sacred event. Your little Lina is so beautiful and blessed. Happy Baptism Day!

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