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In Keeping With Tradition

by Angel Gifts

Gift giving has been used for thousands of years as a way of celebrating a special occasion and mark an important event in a persons life.

Christening gifts and baptism presents began as small items of monetary or material value that could be saved as an initial investment for a child’s future. A silver six pence could be the beginning of a nest-egg to help start the child in good financial stead and gain independence in later life.

Silver six pence for a christening gift


Looking as far back as the Tudor period, there began a tradition of giving Apostle spoons as christening gifts. These are silver spoons with an image of one of Jesus’s twelve apostles (disciples) on the handle.  The particularly wealthy would give a baby an entire set of twelve apostle spoons, whilst those less well off would give four spoons such as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Alternatively just one spoon would be given with the saint whose name the child had been given. This is thought to be where the phrase “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” originated. Whilst giving Apostle spoons is now less common – the giving of silver still remains.

Silver apostle spoon

Silver was a very valuable currency, therefore giving an item of silver was a convenient way of setting up a nest egg for a new baby. The Victorians changed the emphasis from gifts of purely financial nature to gifts of intrinsic nature and thus the gifting of sterling silver began.

Silver egg cups, silver rattles, silver teethers, silver napkin rings and silver cutlery appeared in considerable numbers during the Victorian era. The silver christening cup or silver tankard was an adaptation of an earlier tradition dating back to the drinking vessels of Northern Europe.

Christening tankard

It is important to remember that you don’t have to give silver as a christening gift. Whatever Christening gift you choose, you are continuing a practice that has lasted many thousands of years.

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