Thinking about a naming celebration?
Bringing a child into the world is probably one of if not the biggest occasions and commitments we can make in life and it is something that is genuinely cause for celebration in my book. Welcome to the World celebrations or non-religious Naming ceremonies are becoming more popular as an alternative to a religious christening or baptism, yet, compared to the number of people who celebrate a marriage with a wedding, they are certainly not as numerous. If you’re thinking that when you’ve just had a baby that the last thing you want to do is organise a party or celebration, I hear you! However, there is no time limit on a Naming, it can be done whenever it works best for you as a family and combining with a birthday celebration or for multiple siblings in more of a family commitment ceremony can be a great way to minimise the party planning.
"Celebrate and welcome new life*"
So what is a Naming ceremony?
Think a non-religious version of a christening, a chance to celebrate and welcome new life* into the world, community or family.
Becoming parents is a huge life event, up there if not more of a commitment than marriage yet so few people mark this occasion. Both marriages and births require legal registering but why is it only the marriages that get the celebration and party?
I believe that this is, in part, because people don’t realise that there is an alternative to a religious christening or baptism ceremony. A Naming ceremony is centred around the child and the hopes that their parents or guardians have for the life ahead of them. It is an opportunity to say words of familial love that often go unspoken and to officially appoint special people (these are often known as guideparents but you can use whichever names you wish) who will help and support the child as they grow up. These can often be from outside the family unit and this an opportunity to build or reinforce a connection that will last a lifetime.
You might be thinking ‘Helen, we’ve just had a baby the last thing we want to do is plan a party!’ To which I say, there is no expiry date on a Naming! Many parents like to combine it with the first birthday party (less party planning and cost vs separate ceremonies). Equally a child can be any age so please don’t think if you have a toddler or older child that you have ‘missed the boat’. And for teens and pre-teens the ceremony can take more of the form of a ‘coming of age’ particularly great for those that may not be religious themselves but have Jewish or Catholic backgrounds or families.
Each ceremony, like all Humanist ceremonies, is completely unique and personal, the result of time spent with you as a family and completely led by what they want for your ceremony and your celebration.
You may want to include messages, letters or suggestions in a keepsake box, blow bubbles, do a cake smash or get your guests involved in creating a unique piece of art. Some suggestions of these can be seen below.
*new life doesn’t necessarily mean birth of a child. Additional causes for celebration are adoptions, coming out, gender affirmation, blending of families as well as coming of age celebrations similar to a Quincera or Bar/ Bat Mitzvah.