How to Celebrate Baptismal Birthdays

How to Celebrate Baptismal Birthdays

Celebrating Baptismal Birthdays

Everyone knows some ideas for celebrating birthdays, and we’ve written before about celebrating name days, but what about celebrating baptismal birthdays? Just like birthdays are important to the secular world and name days are important to the sacred world, baptismal birthdays are meaningful, too. They can be days set aside to remind us of something greater than ourselves. We know that baptism is a sacrament that delivers forgiveness and restores God’s children to eternal life. Taking the opportunity to celebrate this gift of life can help all of us remember the unconditional nature of this blessing.

The one divine gift of baptism bestows several gifts, all given through ordinary water with the Word of God. According to Scripture we know the baptized receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and eternal life (Romans 6:4). It is through baptism that we are washed clean of our sins and made righteous before God (Titus 3:5-7). It is through baptism that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and work his saving faith within us, helping us to grow and be strengthened in our faith. Through baptism we are baptized into Christ, into his death, with the words from Paul ringing true: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

Celebrating this day and making it special (just as we would a birthday or name day) not only helps to reinforce and teach this meaning of baptism to our children but also provides an opportunity to give thanks. We, as parents, sponsors, family members, friends, and members of the Church, should liberally and often show our gratitude to God for delivering and saving us all. Reminding ourselves of the utmost importance of this day and the Holy Spirit’s work in us helps us see how it is God, not us, who brings us to a life of faith.

So what does a baptismal birthday celebration look like? What are some ways in which one can incorporate the tenets of liturgical living into these days? Some might choose to throw a full-scale party, inviting grandparents and sponsors and making special food. Others might instead choose to acknowledge the day in a simple way: with immediate family and the inclusion of a few “extras” incorporated into the family prayers or devotions. At any rate, here are a few things to consider. By no means is this prescriptive and meant for you to think you need to do it all. Instead pick and choose what might be best for you and go forth in celebrating with a gladful heart!

Attend a Service

First of all, if the baptismal birthday falls on a Sunday or another day on which your parish offers a service, you should try to attend! What better way to celebrate God’s sacraments than in the place that bestows those gifts unto God’s people! If you’re so inclined, telling or reminding your pastor of the significance of the date can provide an opportunity for him to include you in his personal and corporate prayers for the baptized.

Say a Prayer

Along these lines, praying for the one whose day you are celebrating is a most appropriate way to make the day special and to include them into your family devotions or other prayers that you already say. If you’d like to use a published prayer, try using the “baptism anniversary” collect #176 found on page 310 of your Lutheran Service Book. Otherwise, feel free to say your own prayer remembering God’s ongoing gifts for the baptized.

Sing a Hymn

Whether or not the person you are celebrating was baptized during a service, you can sing a hymn to help make the day special and to teach about the meaning of the sacrament. Look back at a bulletin from the service to see what was sung on the baptism day or choose another baptism-related hymn to incorporate as part of your prayers. We personally think there is no better option than LSB 594, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.”

Light a Candle

There are a few physical objects that many receive when they are baptized in the church. One of those was likely a baptismal candle, lit from the paschal candle, meant to represent the fire of faith lit by God in the hearts of his people. Taking out that candle—or lighting another single candle—on the baptismal birthday is a wonderful way to connect the events of the past (that many of us were too young to remember) with the present.

If you are so inclined as a parent or sponsor, you could also consider gifting the wooden candle that Wicking Vicar sells to the baptized person you are celebrating!

Restate the Baptismal Promises

While lighting the candle, the head of the household might choose to re-read the questions found on page 270 of the LSB that are a central part of the baptismal rite. When you hear these questions and answers repeated, you can recall the words (and ultimately God’s Word) that were spoken at the baptism.

Read About Baptism

If the person you are celebrating is small, a simple book might help to start a conversation about their own baptism. We love a few Lutheran options such as “What I See at Baptism,” “God Makes Me His Child in Baptism,” “God Chose You,” “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb,” and “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.”

We also encourage you to choose an appropriate piece of Scripture to be part of your prayers, such as the verses mentioned in our introduction to this post from Acts, Romans, or Titus; the story of Jesus’ baptism; or other Scriptural allusions to God’s work through water.

If the person you are celebrating is older, you can recite Luther’s Small Catechism’s chief part on baptism and/or read the longer passage from his Large Catechism.

Hang Baptism Banner or Certificate

Taking out other mementos from the day can also be a way to tie together the past, present, and future. Many have a baptismal banner or certificate given to them at their baptism. A celebration of a baptismal birthday is a wonderful opportunity to take that object down from its hanging place or out of its storage box to display by your family altar. If you don’t have one of these, no worries! You can always purchase a baptismal certificate to fill out yourself after the fact, hang a home-made baptismal-themed banner, or display a seashell or baptismal gown.

Look at Pictures

Likewise, you might have baptism photos or even a video that you can look at and use to teach children about what happened to them on the day in which they became members of God’s family.

Make Something Special to Eat

Just as many of the events of the Church year center around fasting and feasting, a baptismal birthday is a great time to pick out something extra scrumptious, special, or eloquent to make and eat in honor of God’s lavish gifts he bestows upon us. While there are no historic or researched customs for certain dishes you should focus your meal around, you can use the all-purpose cake recipe we feature on our name days post or ask the person you are celebrating what they would like to eat!

Include Sponsors in the Celebration

Whether your celebration is big or small, don’t forget to include the sponsors in the day and make them a part of the commemoration. If they live far away from you, try to schedule a phone call with them and ask them what they remember about the day. If they live close, then maybe they can be part of your dinner celebration or family prayers, helping make them a critical part of the education on, remembrance of, and gratitude for the day on which the baptized members were given faith and the Holy Spirit.


Baptismal birthdays recall one of the most important dates in a Christians’ life. It is a day on which to remember the gift of faith and life as well as what God teaches us about the salvific nature of baptism and his command to baptize all. By making the day special in your household and finding ways to celebrate that which was freely given to us at our own baptisms, you can help teach about the importance of this sacrament to all, giving thanks to God for the gift of life!

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