Scandinavia Birth and Christening

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Birth/Christening[edit | edit source]

Terms for birth, christening, home christening - Language[edit | edit source]

  • Danish: fødte, døpte, Hjemmedåb
  • Norwegian: født, døbt, Hjemmedåp
  • Swedish: födda, döpta, Hemdop
  • Icelandic: faddir, skirn
  • Finnish: syntyneet, kastetut

Only the date of christening may have been recorded and not the actual birth date. If there is only one date given, it is the christening date rather than the birth date.

Until the late 1700's the christening should have taken place within 8 or 9 days following the birth. Beginning in the early 1800 it should have taken place within nine months following the birth. You will find exceptions to these so it is important to search up to a year or two following the expected time of birth.

In 1814 the format for church records was standardized in Denmark and Norway. The new form asked for both the birth date and the christening date. Iceland was under Danish rule until 1944, so their church records will be similar in format to the records found in Denmark. No nationwide printed format existed for Swedish or Finnish church records until the later 1800s. However, from the beginning of records they seemed more inclined to record both birth date and christening date than ministers in Denmark and Norway.

Home Christening[edit | edit source]

A "home christening" might have taken place if it looked like the newborn might not live. If the minister could get there in time, that was best. If not, another person attending the birth could perform the duty. In most instances, a person of standing and esteem in the parish was sought out to perform such an emergency christening. If a "home christening" took place and the child lived, the home christening would need to be confirmed at the next feasible church service to which the child could physically be brought. The names of those who witnessed the actual home christening could become a part of the record at this point, as well as the names of those who witnessed the official church christening/pronouncement.

The date of that home christening (hjemme daab, hjemmedøbt, hjdøbt, etc.) may be recorded, as well as the date that event was publicized in the church. If both the home christening date and the church christening date are given, record both since these dates act as identifiers for your ancestor.

Witnesses[edit | edit source]

List the names of christening witnesses. Our ancestors were no different from us in that they also invited family and friends to help celebrate their life events. Relatives could have come from near and far away, sometimes surprisingly far. Many research problems are solved because of christening witnesses and their residences being listed in the record.

The minister may have known that a given farm, listed as the residence for a christening witness of your third great-grandmother, was in a parish in the nearby county, but he may not have recorded the name of the parish the farm belonged to. By listing out the names and finding the residences of christening witnesses you can solve tough Scandinavian research problems.