Planning a naming ceremony

If you are not religious a naming ceremony could be the answer to celebrating the birth and naming of your child.

Planning a baby naming ceremony

Naming ceremonies are secular (non-religious) ceremonies. Find out what a naming ceremony involves and how you can personalise it for you and your child.

What is a baby naming ceremony?
What is involved?
Is it right for me?
What about godparents?
Baby naming ceremony checklist
Symbolic gestures
Poem or reading for a naming ceremony

What is a baby naming ceremony?

Baby naming ceremonies, or naming days, are becoming popular with parents who wish to mark the occasion of a birth or name-change in a special way. A baby naming ceremony is perfect for non-religious families or families of mixed faith, as many different traditions and beliefs can be included in the ceremony to honour different members of the family.

These ceremonies are not only used to welcome a new baby, but can also help introduce an adoptive child or children into a new marriage. They can also be used to welcome children into a second marriage. By marking these occasions in a special way, little ones can feel involved and will be able to better understand why they are getting a new name.

A baby naming ceremony can take place anywhere from days after birth, to months, or even years, depending on the situation.

What’s involved?

The best thing about a baby naming ceremony is that it’s all about you and your family. The purpose of the ceremony is for you, as parents, to state your commitment and love to your child, as well as any hopes for the future. During the ceremony you can explain why you chose your child’s name and what it means to you.

Your officiant will be able to talk you through some ideas and provide a structure to your ceremony, but will be keen to involve you in the process to make sure your celebration goes exactly as you want.

There are lots of great symbolic gestures and traditions that can be included, making the ceremony inclusive, meaningful and memorable. You can have music playing in the background and if you want read a favourite poem or piece of prose.

Anne Widdop of Fuze Ceremonies says: ‘Families come to us looking for a meaningful way to express their emotions, and to find a way to celebrate a major milestone in their lives. We have so many great ideas to offer; we pride ourselves in making the ceremony personal and unique, but most of all, a ceremony that everyone will remember. There are so many choices today, and families are now realizing this. One family even had all three children aged from 6 months to 10 years named at the same time!’

What about godparents?

Instead of godparents, who help guide a child in a Christian life, your child can have ‘mentors’, ‘guide parents’ or ‘supporting adults’. They just need to say they will be there for your child as they grow up and play a mentoring role.

Is it right for me?

Whether you choose a religious or non-religious naming ceremony, you’ll know the right way for your family to introduce a new arrival or addition. With a baby naming ceremony you can be as formal or informal as you wish, from a barefoot day at the beach to a service at a castle.

Baby naming ceremony checklist

Baby naming ceremonies typically last about 20 to 30 minutes and are nornally followed by a family party. Here is a quick checklist to help you organise a baby naming ceremony for your child.

  1. Talk to another parent who has organised a baby naming ceremony for tips and advice.
  2. Decide on a date and venue that is good for you and your family.
  3. Search for an officiant or celebrant (ask for an example of a typical ceremony and suggestions for a good venue)
  4. Decide how many people you want to share your day and write your guest list.
  5. Decide which relatives or friends you would like to have a special role in your chid’s life. Ask them if they would like to be your child’s ‘mentor’ or ‘supporting adult.’
  6. Discuss and agree the cultural symbols you would like to include (e.g. a traditional song, poem or piece of prose.)
  7. Think about who you might like to do any poetry readings or songs.
  8. Decide if you are going to have a party afterwards and where it will be.
  9. Order a cake and send out the invitations.
  10. Enjoy your child’s special day – make it one to remember for your family.

Symbolic gesture for a naming ceremony

A memory box is a lovely symbolic gesture for a naming ceremony that doubles up as the perfect keepsake for your child.

Here is an example of how a memory box was used at at real baby naming ceremony.

“As part of today’s ceremony Jen and Russell have chosen to put together a memory box to remember this day, and have asked you all to bring something, or write a short message to put into the box. This will be a lovely keepsake for Layton and something which I’m sure he will treasure when he gets older and will look back on fondly as an adult. So if you would like to come forward now and place your keepsakes or messages into the box, and as you do so I shall read some words by the poet Anthony David:

I want to give you something to help express my deepest wish for you – and to help you remember this moment.

I give you the gift of sugar,
Representing life’s sweetness.
I wish that for you in abundance.
I give you the gift of rice
May your life bring forth many fruits
From even the smallest seeds.
I give you a silver coin
That in your life you may have all that you need
And even more to share.
I also give you the gift of white cotton
That you may live to become white-haired and wise.
Accept these gifts in the spirit of hope,
That love may be transmitted across the generations.

Poems or reading for a naming ceremony

Many parents want to include a favourite poem, song or piece of prose. Here are some suggestions that have been used in real baby naming ceremonies in Scotland courtesy of Fuze Ceremonies:

Walk as tall as the trees
Walk as tall as the trees
Live strong as the mountains
Be gentle as the spring winds
Keep the warmth of summer in your heart
And the Great Spirit will always be with you.
Native American Indian Chant

In beauty may I walk
In beauty
May you walk
All day long may you walk
Through the returning seasons
May you walk
On the trail marked with pollen
May you walk
With grasshoppers about your feet
May you walk
With dew about your feet
May you walk
With beauty may you walk
With beauty before you
With beauty behind you
With beauty above you
With beauty all around you
May you walk
Navajo chant

Thanks to Fuze Ceremonies for symbolic gestures and suggested poems for a naming ceremony.

Need more baby name inspiration?

Baby name hubSee our complete collection of baby names articles and tips in the baby names hub.

For more information about this author click on her Google+ profile here; +Ali McHugh
Photography: Thomas Sauzedde @Flickr

Comments for 'Planning a naming ceremony'

One Response to Planning a naming ceremony

  1. Love the memory box idea for a baby naming ceremony.

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