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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?

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    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. Jun 15, 2014 at 3:47

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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.

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  • In Chinese culture, white is associated with death. What about Chinese Catholics? :)
    – Double U
    Jun 15, 2014 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? Jun 15, 2014 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, 2014 at 4:02
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At our parish, all-white outfits are worn by the girls up to age 17 for regular baptisms and Easter vigil baptisms. The girls wear the standard, poofy, white, short sleeve, knee-length baptism dresses with a matching bonnet, lace anklets or tights, and white patent leather shoes. A white tee shirt with a cloth diaper and plastic pants is worn under the dresses to add to the girls' purity.

For First Communion, the communion dress and veil are worn with lace anklets, white shoes, the white tee shirt, cloth diaper, and plastic pants are worn under the dress.

For confirmation at 16, the boys wear suits and ties and the girls wear floor-length white dresses and veils with gloves. A camisole with a cloth diaper, plastic pants, and white tights is worn under the dresses with patent leather shoes.

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    Are you saying teenagers are wearing diapers???
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 7, 2021 at 2:19
  • @curiousdannii, maybe? I found at least one claim that said practice is apocryphal, but the site linked purports to have a few first-hand experiences. I would guess that it might be true, but likely pretty uncommon.
    – Matthew
    Sep 8, 2021 at 16:44

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