6 Good Reasons to Hold a Naming Ceremony

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (06/08/2020)
Categories: | Naming Ceremonies |
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Six good reasons to hold a naming ceremony
                      photo of baby looking puzzled with finger to lipsAs our society becomes less religious, with fewer people regularly attending religious services or being formal members of a religious denomination, families are becoming more familiar with the idea of holding a Naming Ceremony for a child. At the newsagents you will find a small selection of Naming Day cards next to an equally small selection of Christening Cards. Nonetheless, I am still getting bookings where the parents tell me they have never been to a naming ceremony. And it is not uncommon to find that most people attending the ceremony have a very hazy idea of what a naming ceremony is, or what function it serves. One of the reasons, I believe, for the popularity of 1st birthday naming ceremonies held in conjunction with the first birthday party.

What is a naming ceremony?

A naming ceremony is a formal ceremony in which a child is welcomed to the world, to the family, and to the community of family and friends in which they live. While it is often referred to as a secular christening, the ceremony can include expressions of faith. It doesn't replace a christening, baptism, or other religious ceremony that admits a child to membership of a religion or religious denomination. But it can complement a christening. Some families choose to have both, particularly when some of the family are believers and some are not.

What happens during a naming ceremony?

The core components of a naming ceremony are:
  • Appointment of godparents
    While godparent is the term used in christenings, in Australia it is widely understood in a secular sense, devoid of religious responsibility, to be an older, wiser person who supports both the child and the parents. Other common terms used for this role include sponsor, guideparent, mentor, and guardian, though it must be stressed that appointing guardians as part of a naming ceremony has no legal effect.
  • Acknowledgement of significant adults, such as grandparents
  • Formal giving of the child's name(s), including the reasons behind the choice

Common additional components are

  • The story of the child's birth
  • Promises to the child
  • Reading(s)
  • A Ritual, such as the lighting of a candle.

Why have a naming ceremony?

I confess. I love working with families to create a naming ceremony that is perfect for them and their child. Not only is it a lovely occasion, I believe there are long-term benefits. However, not everyone agrees with me on that point. I have had celebrants comment to me that they can't see the point of a naming ceremony, which is also a comment I occasionally hear from people who are not celebrants. So why have a naming ceremony? Apart from the obvious reason, that is, to have a formal, celebratory function to celebrate your child, which basically, is what the celebration of any birthday is, a celebration of the person, that they exist, that they are part of our lives. There are six good reasons for holding a naming ceremony.

A naming ceremony challenges the parents to reflect on parenthood

Traditionally, something blue was the bride's garter - something she wore in expectation of it being taken off (a custom developed to stop people tearing bits off the bride's clothes for luck!). The colour blue has been associated with loyalty, faithfulness, and purity for centuries. It is also the colour that is believed to ward off the Evil Eye, a belief still honoured by charms, particularly in the Middle East.

A naming ceremony allows for formal public expressions of appreciation

When a child is christened in church, the parents and godparents are present round the font, but the focus is totally on the child, on promises made on behalf of the child. The godparents have duties, responsibilities, and obligations in relations to the child's spiritual upbringing, as do the parents, but nothing is said about why they were chosen. The grandparents are ignored. In a naming ceremony there is room, and reason, to express appreciation, not just of and to the godparents, but also to grandparents and other significant adults.

A naming ceremony is a gathering of support for the parents

Whatever the rationale for holding a naming ceremony might be, first and foremost it is a means of gathering support for the parents, particularly the mother of the the child. The people the couple invite are those they are most likely to call on for help and support when needed. So it is both a preemptive move and a source of comfort to be able to gather them together to be with the parents and the child in a relaxed, though formal, situation in which a request for support and a reminder of the responsibility each of us has for the welfare of each and every child can be delivered.

A naming ceremony is insurance for the future

However sweet your babe is, come the teenage years and accusations of "you don't love me, you don't care, you never wanted me" are very likely to be thrown at you. Having the evidence of what was said and done in their naming ceremony, the promises you made in front of witnesses, might help.

A naming ceremony demonstrates that morality is not the sole province of faith

At heart, a naming ceremony is deeply rooted in family values, in a moral view of life and relationships.

A naming ceremony is fun

Any occasion with a lot of children present is bound to have "moments", many of them hilarious, as children, totally devoid of any sense of occasion or social etiquette, do their own thing, and say what they think, often very loudly. It is also an opportunity to catch up with friends and family members, indulge in sweet treats, and generally kick back. Of course it is going to be fun.

More information about naming ceremonies

Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you can
                        have the best ceremony ever
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