Most people consider the birth of a child a cause of celebration and great joy. Shortly after the birth, Travellers will have their child baptised. The focus in baptism for Travellers is the child receiving strength and protection. Since the extended family is very important, the sense of celebration is shared by many and the child is welcomed into much larger family than its own immediate one.
The baptism shawl is special in some families, they believe that when a child is not well, you wrap up the baby in the shawl to give it strength. It is because the shawl is blessed that you do this. As a woman said ‘you wrap them up in the mantle of God’.
At baptism, the first words spoken to the child behalf of the church are “The Christian community welcomes you with great joy”. However, these words can often have a hollow ring to them because this child as a member of the Traveller community is likely to experience exclusion and hostility from his/her sisters and brothers in Christ.