New parents in Tbilisi, Georgia line up to have their babies baptized at the city’s Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in observance of the Epiphany on Thursday (January 19.)
The mass baptism was an invention of Patriarch Ilya II, recognized as one of Georgia’s most influential men.
He came up with the thought to stimulate the country’s low birth rate, promising to personally baptize their children in each family.
The patriarch blessed 780 children in the ceremony.
Why the low birth rate?
Georgia’s low birth rate is a product of the country’s taboo on sex before marriage for women. (Young men having pre-martial sex is tolerated, perhaps even encouraged.)
Many young women feel they need to control their desires and succumb to societal norms until they are married. As such, many wed at a young age – unions which are more about sex than anything else. A marriage certificate is often considered nothing more than a license to have sex.
Many girls who remain unmarried to their boyfriends either abstain from sex or buck the norms of Georgian society and have pre-martial sex. When pregnancy results, the woman is more likely to get an abortion than having the child. Both sexual abstinence and abortion have lowered the county’s birth rate.
Watch this video below.