Thursday, July 27, 2017

19th C. French Baptismal Etiquette

Baptismal font in Toulouse, France ~ When one has consented to hold the infant at the baptismal font, he should perform this duty in a becoming manner, and according to his own condition and that of the parents of the child.

Etiquette Of Baptism


We must invite several months beforehand the godfather and godmother of the child that is to be baptized. If the ties of blood have given you a right to this onerous duty, you cannot dispense with it. If not, you can seek a specious excuse.


When one has consented to hold the infant at the baptismal font, he should perform this duty in a becoming manner, and according to his own condition and that of the parents of the child.


A present should be given to the mother, and this present usually consists of confectionary. We must also give one to the godmother, a pair of white gloves and comfits; if she is a young person, she commonly receives a bouquet of white flowers in addition. If the godfather wishes to show her any attention, he can add to the presents an elegant and valuable object, such as a fan; but in that case it is good ton for the godmother to send in return some rich and tasteful present. She also has the honor of giving to the child a cap, and often a baptismal robe. To her also belongs the duty of putting the first dress on the child.
Persons of a very high class in order to free their friends from these expenses, send their domestics to present their children at the baptismal font. This is a most unbecoming custom!
The attendant and the nurse have also a present.


The officers of the church, and the poor, should each receive a gratuity proportionate to their condition. We simply put a piece of money into the hands of the humbler persons; but we present the clergyman with a box of presents in which is enclosed a piece of gold or silver.


Persons of a very high class in order to free their friends from these expenses, send their domestics to present their children at the baptismal font. This is a most unbecoming custom; it seems to consider this holy consecration as a slavish ceremony, and destroys at its source the sentiment of respect and affection, that a godson or daughter should inspire in those who have adopted them before God.


At whatever hour the ceremony is appointed, we go to the church in a carriage at the expense of the godfather. He and the godmother pass in first; then comes the infant borne by its nurse or a matron; then the father, who accompanies the other invited persons.


It is the custom in many houses to give, after returning from the baptism, an elegant entertainment, of which the godfather and godmother receive all the honor. Above all, they should give their godchild new year’s gifts while it is a child, and manifest their affection during the whole of its life.


From the 6th Paris Edition of  “The Gentleman and Lady's Book of Politeness and Propriety of Deportment, Dedicated to the Youth of Both Sexes.” by Mme. Elisabeth Celnart, 1833 



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