The Significance of an Heirloom Christening Gown
"Family heirlooms link generations in
a deep, personal way. Anyone who has seen their great-grandmother's baptismal gown, grandfather's wallet, or a photo of a relative going off to war knows how moving these pieces of history can be. These treasured items, passed down from generation to generation, provide insight into the lives of our ancestors and a richer understanding of our family's history." (by Unknown)
Most of us donít have a Baptismal or Christening gown that has been passed down and used for generations. However, you can start your own tradition with an heirloom Christening or Baptism gown. The Christening, Baptism, Blessing, Bris or Naming of your baby is a special day worthy of being remembered with great sentimentality, and remembrances from that day hold great value. An heirloom Christening gown worn by your child can be a treasured piece passed down for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to wear.
Traditionally, Christening or Baptismal gowns are white, symbolic of purity, and have been worn by both males and females. In addition to the Christening gown, your baby's tiny Christening shoes are always a great item to have as a memento. Also, a bib and blanket, especially personalized, are excellent additions to the Christening, Baptismal or Blessing ceremony and can be kept as keepsakes. Christening, Baptismal or Bris gowns should always be beautiful and of the finest quality with lace, embroidery, ribbon and/or other embellishments. They
should be made of delicate, soft fabrics suitable for a baby. Whether intricate or unadorned, your heirloom Christening gown should be made to the most exacting
Preserving your Heirloom:
It is a good idea to make a written record of the history of your "new heirloom" from the beginning Ė make note of who made or purchased the Bris Set or Christening gown and who used it. Also, relate what it means to your family including any significant dates, photos, and mention of people or location. A good place to either write directly or store your journaling and photos is inside a small satin or
lace covered Bible. A small personal Bible also makes a great Baptism or Christening gift.
It is vital to start protecting your heirloom Christening gown from the beginning. Your Christening gown can be damaged by light, heat, humidity, dust, pests, and handling if not properly cared for. A temperature of 72 degrees F or below and humidity between 45 and 55 percent are ideal. An heirloom preservation bag will keep your gown clean and keep it from long-term
contact with damaging chemicals and acids that can be in other clothing and items touching your heirloom gown. If you display your items, try to avoid dramatic changes in temperature and humidity, and find a way to keep them clean (perhaps in a shadow box frame). Display them away from heat sources, outside walls, basements and attics. Sunlight and fluorescent light can also be damaging, so avoid them!
Also, be careful about what is placed next to your heirloom gown. A variety of items can be harmful including dry-cleanerís bags; glues, adhesive tapes and labels; pins, staples, and paper clips; acidic wood, cardboard or paper; and pens and markers. For preservation without display, an heirloom preservation bag is ideal.
Three White Dresses:
A girlís Christening, Baptismal or Blessing gown; Communion gown or Confirmation gown; and Wedding gown are all very special items that will be
treasured, especially when you have all three.
Your Heritage and the Selection of an Heirloom Christening Gown
selecting your Heirloom Christening gown, you may want to consider aspects of your family heritage to help you make your selection.
you sew well, you could make your own Christening Gown. If you choose this method, I would recommend using only the finest materials and being very selective about what types of fibers you combine (i.e., if you make a 100% cotton gown, use only 100% cotton thread). Many patterns for beautiful Christening or Baptismal gowns exist. You can even use the fabric from your own wedding gown to create an
unforgettable heirloom Christening gown. While this can be an expensive option, the results are stunning
(see our Making Memories line of one-of-a-kind
Christening gowns). If you
donít sew, there are services available on the internet and in your local
phone book that will custom make your gown for you.
If you had a favorite dress or gown as a child, made of a certain fabric or in a certain style, you could look for a Christening gown made in the same or similar fabric or style, or you could look for a Christening gown that is reminiscent of your wedding gown. (e.g., Organza, Silk, Cotton, Satin, Smocked, Lacy, Embroidered, Sailor)
If you are Irish, you may want to select an Irish Christening or Baptismal gown, either of Irish linen or with Irish symbols.
The Significance of the Shamrock
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland as he was the one who brought
Christianity to the Irish. According to legend, Saint Patrick used the symbolism of the shamrock to explain the
Trinity. The three leaflets united by a common stalk represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit united in
one. The shamrock was sacred to the Druids, so Saint Patrick's use of it in explaining the Trinity was very wise.
Significance of the Four-Leaf Clover
The history of the four-leaf clover is clearly distinct from the tradition of the Trinity behind the shamrock in which the three leaves are so significant. In fact, it pre-dates Christianity. The Celts were the ancient inhabitants of Ireland and parts of Western Europe. The Druids, priests of the Celts, considered the four-leaf clover to be a charm against malevolent spirits.
The leaves of the four-leaf clover are said to stand for faith, hope, love, and luck. The first written reference to the tradition of the "lucky four-leaf
clover" was made by Sir John Melton in 1620. He wrote, "If a man walking in the fields finds any four-leafed
grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing."