Comparative analysis of baptismal practices

By Karin Tillberg

The main practical issues that are addressed in the material concern is the manner, time and place for baptism. In Iceland, the most common practice is to baptise in the home. In Sweden and Denmark, the most common practice is to baptise in an independent, separate service on Saturdays—to have an independent service or baptism as part of the main Sunday service, is largely due to geographic variations. In Norway, it is most common to baptise as part of the main Sunday service, yet home baptisms occur as well, particularly hin northern Norway.


One practice that is gaining more prominence is “drop-in baptisms”. This practice seems to be more common in Norway and Sweden but also occurs in Denmark, however here it is viewed as a novelty.


An important feature of the baptism service is the conversation with parents and/or family before the service. The bibliography in this book/publication shows several examples of how parents and godparents are met by the church, especially the conversation preceding baptism.


Practices related to the follow-up after baptism as well as educational aspects are different in the Nordic countries. Examples include the handing out of bibles, trees or similar as decoration in the church, or the planting of a baptismal forest.

Furthermore, the issue of baptism in relation to asylum seekers is a matter of debate in the entire Nordic region. In Sweden and Norway, the Bishop’s conference has released instructional materials on this issue and in Denmark there is a document: Guidelines for Asylum seekers. A subset of this material discusses baptism of asylum seekers, something which emerged with renewed intensity after 2015. Also, the question of ‘double religious belonging/membership’ surfaces in newer discussions, reflecting the increasingly religiously pluralistic nature of society at large but also of individual families.