A year in the Liefe of

By LainieC

A Gift from the Heart

Time to start re-decoratring our main bedroom before the new furniture arrives, so BIG clear out in operation!Amongst those things carefully set aside,I found my christening cup, given to me by an elderly neighbour at that time.The tiny cup had been passed down through his family.Unable to afford a gift, he handed it on to my family.It is an extremely course looking piece of lustre ware,(if you look carefully you can see the opalescent finish captured down the left hand side of the cup)full of firing 'blips' with some of the gold design now worn away with age.I doubt it is of any value but to me, it is a precious gift, given from the heart.
I have never known anything much about its origin but only today. realised I know little about the meaning of a christening cup either, so did a bit of research.This is what I came up with.
Since the Victorian era, one of the most popular Christening gifts for a baby BOY has been a silver cup or silver tankard - a beautiful present that is often passed down from generation to generation. But why should such a seemingly utilitarian object become associated with such an important rite of passage?
Although the Christening cup became increasingly popular in Victorian times, the myths and tradition surrounding cups themselves have roots going back many thousands of years.
Drinking vessels have had a deep and enduring significance in people's lives since early prehistory. From the cups and jars used in Sumerian and Egyptian funeral rites to the Beaker and Celtic cultures of Western Europe, cups and goblets have been used for millennia to carry the ashes and remains of the dead, drink the blood of vanquished foes and seal binding vows.
Think of the cauldrons of the druids, the Vikings' horned cups and the Celtic quaich and it is plain that cups, tankards and goblets carry a significance way beyond their simple function.
Then consider that sports teams compete for cups. The World Cup, the FA Cup and the Ryder Cup are all fought over with passion and skill, but why are they competing for cups rather than spoons, bottles,saucepans or kettles?
Part of the cup's legacy may come from the ritual of sharing a drink from a single cup, as in the Loving Cups and Grace Cups drunk at formal banquets and dinners. Trust and communal bonds are reaffirmed when drinking from the same cup and this is mirrored in the use of a chalice during the Communion service in the Christian Church.
The Christening cup obviously has precedents from our distant past, which have been adopted over time and assumed a greater religious significance. eg: the concept of plenty - "My Cup Runneth Over" - in Psalm 23. The cup itself has a resonance throughout Christian tradition.
One of the world's most celebrated cups is the Holy Grail. This was the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper and later to catch Christ's blood at the crucifixion. It features in countless legends.
So, perhaps the baby boy or girl who receives a Christening cup on the day of his or her Baptism, is receiving something more than a simple cup, he or she is receiving a Christening gift that reflects fundamental beliefs and traditions from our distant past.I will always treasure MY tiny cup.

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