(asked by Abigail from somewhere)
Interesting question Abigail! To be honest I had forgotten that such medals existed, thanks for refreshing my memory.
So what’s up with those?
Well, traditions are hard to die sometimes.
These medals –if I’m not wrong- come from a time when religion still played a role in French society and represent a saint that is supposed to protect the child from baptism and on.
Nowadays, they’re still a tradition in certain families, regardless if the family is actually religious or not. And yes, a bunch of French people will baptize their kids even if they’re not that religious; remember religion is a matter of tradition in France and not really anything else.
Sometimes, the medal will be transmitted from generation to generation (much less nowadays as grandparents tend to be alive when they grandchildren are born) or bought for the occasion, with the name and the date of birth of the child engraved on the back.
Are they choking hazard? Well, last time I checked, I didn’t see any unusual percentage of choking on medals among infant deaths in France, and believe me if they were, they wouldn’t be that common (but are they that common nowadays? I’m not sure).