Why are babies dressed in white during a Roman Catholic christening (aka baptism)? Is the color symbolic or anything? Can any other color be worn? Similarly, are there some sort of color restrictions for adult converts?

  • White is worn in non-catholic baptisms too because it symbolizes the purity resulting from baptism (from a non-Calvinist/Evangelical perspective), i.e. having your sins washed away. – david brainerd Jun 15 '14 at 3:47

The color white is primarily symbolic of the pure state of the baby's/adult's soul along with the renewal of life after being cleansed of original sin by the Holy Spirit. But as with all symbolism, there are many more things associated with the color (according to Wikipedia):

According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the color most often associated with innocence, perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, lightness, and exactitude.

There are no official Catholic teaching on the color of clothing, but people may choose white on account of the tradition and symbolism of the color.

  • In Chinese culture, white is associated with death. What about Chinese Catholics? :) – Double U Jun 15 '14 at 20:10
  • Do you have a source for that Anon? Doesn't sound like it could remotely be true. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_in_Chinese_culture#White "White, corresponding with metal, represents gold and symbolizes brightness, purity, and fulfillment." It also says its worn at funerals, but that's probably due to an association of purity with hope that the dead died pure? – david brainerd Jun 15 '14 at 22:39
  • @davidbrainerd That Wikipedia article is not well-cited. This article may be more accurate and may be the first impression that Chinese people get when they see white. For a personal anecdote, in the United States, toilet-papering is a prank that involves scattered toilet paper. My parents, being 1st generation Chinese-Americans, didn't know that, and thought someone died in the house. Then, they were solemn about it, treating it as death. – Double U Jun 16 '14 at 4:02

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