A Baptism

The trouble with making regular contributions to a blog like this one is that if you are actually doing lots of interesting stuff you don’t have time to write about it afterwards.

I’ve had a really busy two weeks, with my three UK-based sons visiting us in Corfu, plus my sister-in-law and niece from Athens, for the christening of our first grandchild – daughter of Mia and Marcus, the editors of Island Magazine.

It was a case of all hands on deck to help with the provision of a huge celebratory feast after the baptism service which took place in the Monastery of Vlaherena in Skripero.

The Greek Orthodox ceremony is an amazing experience. The first part – at the back of the church – is basically an exorcism, during which the godparent undertakes to denounce evil powers on behalf of the baby.

Only after the child has thus been cleansed do the participants
(mother, baby, godparent and priest) move to the front of the church for the baptism. To be absolutely sure of doing a proper job, no part of the baby is left un-wetted – but luckily the star of the proceedings soon recovered from the ordeal to rejoice in her, now official, name of Phaedra Valentina.

Traditionally, she should have been known only as Beba until after the christening, and sometimes a godparent takes it upon his or herself to choose the baby’s name, so that the parents only learn what their child will be called when it is too late to wish they had chosen a godparent with better taste!

One of my English friends in Athens experienced this first hand. She thought the godfather was joking when he told her that it was his job to give the baby’s name to the priest, and her precious little one went in to the church as Ben and came out as Poseidon!

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