Godparents Day, sometimes called Godparents' Sunday, takes place on the first Sunday in June every year. The day allows godchildren and their families to honor godparents and the role they take in the children's lives. Many churches hold a special service on the day, which includes a prayer for the godparents. Godchildren may also present special gifts to their godparents on this special day.
Definition of a Godparent in Christianity
In Christianity, a godparent is a person who promises to encourage a child's spiritual and religious growth as the child ages. The Catholic Church requires that parents choose a godparent that is also of the Catholic faith, and specialized training is required to fulfill the role. The role of godparent is less formal in other denominations and churches. Parents typically pick one or two godparents, usually a male and a female to serve as godfather and godmother. Those godparents attend the child's baptism and promise to uphold their roles throughout the child's life.
While naming a godparent for a child is largely a religious practice, choosing a special person to become a mentor and role model for your child is practiced by almost all parents of all faiths and cultures, including secular parents. In the United States, religious practice is in decline, but people still typically want to choose a person to have that special bond with their child, according to the Atlantic.
How Families Choose a Godparent
For Christians, choosing a godparent usually means choosing someone who shares the new parents' faith and has similar values. The godparents must be people who will genuinely care for the child and offer spiritual guidance. Non-Christian parents also want to choose someone who will care for their child as well as a person who will be a good role model for the child in the years to come. Family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, fellow church members, and anyone else who is close to the family all have the potential to become good godparents.
A Godparent's Role
Godparents typically attend the child's baptism or christening, and they promise to encourage the child's spiritual growth, but their duties don't usually end there. Godparents may buy gifts for the child throughout their lifetime, visit him or her frequently, attend birthday parties, and be a strong presence in the child's life. They pray for the child regularly, attend church activities with him or her, and offer guidance.
Nonreligious parents have reported that the godparents they chose for their children often feel like part of the family as if the child has an extra aunt or uncle. They may do things together like going fishing, see a movie, or take a vacation.
Do Godparents Have Legal Rights
One mistake many people make when thinking about godparents is assuming that they have legal rights to a child in the event the child's actual parents die. Unless parents have specified in their wills that the godparents will become the child's guardian in such an event, godparents have no legal rights. However, if a parent does die or fails to guide the child spiritually, the godparent may take on a bigger role in the child's spiritual life.
Gift Ideas for Godparents
On Godparents' Day, it's traditional for the child to give a gift to his or her godparents. In some cases, it may be a card or craft that the child made. Parents may also choose to buy their child's godparents a gift like jewelry, framed photos, and personalized gifts like mugs, T-shirts, and keychains. Ultimately, parents should choose a gift that comes from the heart and lets the godparents know how much they appreciate them.
Asking Someone to Be a Godparent
For most people, being a godparent is an honor, so asking a friend or family member to take on the role isn't too difficult. Asking before the child is born is always a good idea, especially if you're Catholic. This allows time to get all of the paperwork and training in place. Many personalized cards and gifts are available to purchase to help make the moment even more special. Always be prepared to answer any questions a person may have before accepting.