A Greek Baptism
A Greek baptism in the Christian Orthodox Church is a major event in the life of any family. Because of the numerous rites which accompany it, many of which go back to the earliest centuries of Christianity, the baptismal service is a complicated one.
The ceremony begins with an exorcism, when the priest breathes thee times over the baby, and signs it with the sign of the Cross. Then one of the godparents makes a renunciation of Satan on behalf of the baby. He turns to the West and spits in token of his aversion to the Devil. Then turning to the east, he accepts Christ and recites the profession of faith.
The baptismal water is consecrated by the prayers of the priest who touches it with the flat of his hand, and breathes upon it. After the baby has been anointed with hallowed oil, the baptism proper takes place.
The baby is immersed in water three times, while the priest recites the formula 'The servant of God N is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' The new Christian life of the baby is symbolized by the lighting of a white candle. The baby is clothed in white and carried three times around the font.
Confirmation, called 'anointing' or 'sealing', takes place immediately after Baptism. The priest takes the chrism, or consecrated oil, and anoints the baptized person with the sign of the cross on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears.
Some strands of the baby's hair is cut in a ceremonial tonsure. Finally, after a reading from the Gospel, the baby is blessed at the door of the sanctuary. Sweets are distributed to the guests, and the family and friends then enjoy a large meal, either at home or in a taverna.
It is customary that the child be presented at church forty days afterwards to receive holy communion for the first time.
Listen to an explanation of Greek Orthodox Baptism on video in English
Watch part of a Greek Orthodox baptism on video in Greek and English from Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, Toronto. Note: In Greece there would be no pews in the church.
Watch part of a Greek Baptism at Omorfokklisia, Kastoria
Read about a Greek wedding
Read about the Greek Way of Death
Read more about the rituals of the Orthodox Church in Between Heaven and Earth: The Greek Church
Order Between Heaven and Earth: The Greek Church by John L. Tomkinson