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Understanding Differences

The Difference in Baptism and Christening

One of the major primary sources in genealogical research is locating a baptism record. These were issued at the time of a baby, child or even adult’s bestowing of their Christian name and the person’s identification with Christianity and the church.

The term, christening, is also used. Is there much of a difference? Originally, a christening was just for infants to confer their Christian name. It could have been held in a church ceremony or at home with a minister. There are non-religious officiates who will conduct a special ceremony that will publicly “name” the baby and introduce him or her to the world. The ceremony can also allow the parents to make their own promise of care and protection.

With baptism, which is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, and is the basis of the whole Christian life, admits the person into the Christianity. Those religions that practice infant baptism are Roman Catholic and numerous Protestant denominations; such as Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist. Yet, someone could be baptized later as a child or adult.

Over the last few decades the two terms have become interchangeable. Most of the time a christening and baptism are done together, at the same time.

Now only will the church have a record if it was performed as a church ceremony, but the parents will generally have a copy. The information chronicled will be the child’s actual birth date, the parents’ names, the date of the baptism, the sponsors / godparents of the child and location where the event took place.

The Difference in Coat of Arms and Heraldry Crests

When researching one’s family history, especially if there were European ancestors, they believe they might discover a family crest. Actually, a family crest or heraldry crest is part of a coat of arms, not two separate items. Actually coat of arms was awarded to an individual, not to entire family. Occasionally it was later passed onto his oldest son only.

The use of coats of arms were military status symbols, and their popularity increased along with the popularity in the 11th century of the tournaments held for entertainment. With a warrior dressed in armory it was hard to identify each one. The practice was introduced of painting their insignia of honor, bestowed on them by a member of the royal house, on their protective shield as an easy method of distinguishing them. There was also the custom of a person having a single name, so to help recognize one person from another, the basic coat of arms evolved.

The earliest coats of arms were fairly simple with bars or wavy lines, a lion rampant or an eagle displayed, or an arrangement of fleurs-de-lis. The designs became more complex as the years passed. A coat of arms consisted of several parts: the shield, the mantling, the helm, the wreath, charges, and the crest. Another name for a coat of arms was blazon of arms.

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