Birth and Christening - Six pence | The Royal Mint

Birth and Christening gifts

The tradition of giving a silver coin to a young child for their christening goes back centuries. It may even have links to the story of the Three Wise Men in the New Testament. One of the Magi gave a gift of gold and this may have inspired people to give precious metals to a newborn child.

People thought the coin symbolised good luck, but it also served the practical purpose of setting up a nest egg for the child.

Over the centuries, the type of gift has evolved. For instance, during the Tudor era people gave silver spoons. In Queen Victoria’s reign, the tradition changed again and people started giving silver trinkets.

The Silver Sixpence

Back in 1551, the silver sixpence was first introduced during the reign of King Edward VI. The coin quickly became a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. Even today people choose to give silver sixpences and silver pennies at christenings to wish a young boy or girl well.

The flagship Sovereign and the iconic Britannia are also particularly popular christening gifts.

The giving of coins at christenings isn’t just a British custom. Many other countries have similar traditions.

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The tradition of Zhua Zhou in China

Zhua Zhou is a Chinese ceremony that people believe helps to shape a child’s future. Parents place objects in front of the child on his or her first birthday, and the child then simply chooses which objects they want to play with.

The child’s choices are believed to symbolise his or her future. If the child chooses a coin, they will be blessed with a lifetime of good fortune.

To mark Zhua Zhou, friends and family members also give the child coins. The coins are normally threaded onto a string for the child to wear around his or her neck.

Agra Hadig in Armenia

Agra Hadig is an Armenian ceremony that is very similar to Zhua Zhou. Rather than marking the child’s first birthday, Agra Hadig is held when a child gets their first tooth.

Traditions in Trinidad and Tobago

In Trinidad and Tobago, visitors to a newborn baby often put money into the child’s hand to wish them good luck for the future.

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Christening gifts from The Royal Mint

Giving coins as christening gifts is still a very popular way of wishing new babies well. Coins from The Royal Mint are part of our nation’s story and symbolise our 1,100-year heritage.

Every coin made by The Royal Mint is expertly designed, made to the highest quality and is year-dated, to mark the date of the christening; a contemporary take on this age-old tradition. 

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