I was baptised on 14th November 1954. Being only five months old at the time I don’t recall a great deal about the occasion but I do remember attending a christening on the island of Ios in Greece in September 2009.
We had walked to a tiny beach we like and on the way back as we passed a church some preparations being made for a baptism and the building and all around it were being decorated in pink and white in readiness. We enquired about the event and the lady in charge invited us to return at eight o’clock that night to see the ceremony and we agreed that we would.
We put on our best clothes and later we returned to the church to see the baptism ceremony of the little girl into the Christian Orthodox Church. This is a major event in the life of any Greek family because of the numerous rites which accompany it, many of which go back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. It was a lovely experience and now this holiday we had seen a funeral on Serifos, a wedding on Sifnos and a baptism on Ios. A Greek baptism is a sacred and religious rite that is performed on a baby to cleanse the soul and renounce Satan. It is a complex initiation that starts with an exorcism and officially ends forty days later when the baby is presented to the congregation to receive Holy Communion.
We weren’t able to stop for the full forty days and we began to feel a bit like intruders on a private family event so before it was all over we left the church and selected a taverna where we enjoyed another satisfying meal and a jug of red wine before returning to Homer’s Inn Hotel for a final drink on the balcony.