Why are christening gifts traditionally silver?
The tradition of godparents and gift-giving dates back to the fourth century when new members of the church, including babies, would have to be sponsored by existing members. This came from a fear of persecution by non-Christians. Parents would ask friends and family within the church to become godparents and a christening gift would be given to symbolise the presents given to Jesus by the three kings.
The tradition of giving silver didn’t really come about until Tudor and then Victorian times when silver was given because it had value as a currency and was seen as a good investment on behalf of the child. Giving a silver gift symbolised stability for children in their later years.
The saying “born with a silver spoon in your mouth” implies a child who was born into wealth. This saying is actually thought to have come from the middle ages when parents encouraged their children to suck on a silver spoon to ward off the plague. Thanks perhaps to the antibacterial effects of silver wealthier children who had silver spoons survived.
The Tudor tradition of giving apostle spoons, silver spoons engraved with the images of the apostles could also account for the saying and the giving of a silver spoon as a traditional Christening gift.
In Victorian times silver spoons remained popular alongside other gifts such as christening cups, silver egg cups, music boxes, and silver rattles.
Traditional and modern silver gifts
Although in modern times your godchild is unlikely to eat from the silver spoon or drink from the silver cup you give them they still make nice keepsakes. Although maybe they should use them thanks to the antibacterial properties of silver. Neither are they likely to play with a silver rattle.
We do however like the idea of silver money box you can empty your change into when you see them, and who wouldn’t want a silver bubble blower? You get to delight the child with bubbles on the day and they get a gift they can treasure forever! Plus it’s got to be more eco-friendly than the hundreds of plastic bubble blowers they might get through in a lifetime.
A special coin set could be another nice gift with a nod to tradition. Commemorative coins from the royal mint with the year of their birth make a lovely gift. And 2019 coins include Peter Rabit, Paddington Bear and the Gruffalo all of whom are likely to be pretty exciting to the baby at some point in their lives.
This also relates to another tradition of crossing a baby’s palm with silver, with the saying being that if they grab the coin they will be frugal and if they drop the coin they will be free.
You can find silver gifts starting quite cheaply if you wanted to stick with tradition or spend hundreds if you opt for a Tiffany bubble blower or similar. Which begs the question how much should you give?