Baby Naming Ceremonies
Baby naming ceremonies
Civil weddings have become really popular in the last ten years, but until two years ago there was very little alternative for parents wishing to celebrate the arrival of their baby. You can hold a traditional christening, but if you wanted an alternative, you were on your own.
These days, you can hold a civil naming ceremony in your local registry office, or at home, or on the beach, in the hotel you got married in, in a wood... anywhere you like! If you like, you can arrange for a professional celebrant to come along and lead the event, and help you choose what to say, or you can plan it yourselves.
One of the best things about organising your own naming ceremony is that you can make it truly personal to you and your child. If you have older children you can involve them too. You can ask friends or family to do readings, or to become "sponsors", or "special adults" or fairy godmothers - whatever you like!
One of the nicest naming ceremonies I have attended was held on the beach in Suffolk near the family beach hut. The plan was that if the weather was not great, they would simply hold it back at home, but the sun shone and it was a fantastic day. The parents invited about 30 friends and family members. When everyone was assembled, a close friend welcomed everyone to the naming day. The parents stood in front of everyone and read out a few special sentences they had prepared beforehand, telling us how happy they were to have their daughter in their lives, and to have everyone with them today. Their young son then read a short poem. The group lit paper lanterns and released them together. After the short ceremony, we sat and had a picnic and champagne. It was so relaxed and yet very memorable; it was a fantastic way to celebrate the arrival of a new person in our lives.
If you want to plan your own ceremony for your child, then think about who you would like to invite, what time of year you would like to hold it, and what sort of venue would suit everyone. Would you like to be indoors, or outdoors? You may prefer a more formal event, as in a registry office or a hotel that has organised naming ceremonies before, especially if your family are more used to traditional christenings. You can choose who speaks, whether a celebrant, you the parents, your close friends, and family. There are many poems and readings that are appropriate for naming ceremonies, including those by AA Milne, Lewis Carroll, Kahlil Gibran and celtic blessings. You may prefer to write your own! If you are holding the ceremony at home there is nothing to stop you including a religious reading if you like.
You can mark the occasion in lots of special ways, such as releasing balloons, planting a tree, naming a star, or filling a time capsule. If you have lots of small children attending the ceremony, you can include them in a balloon release, or ask them to scatter seeds; it is a lovely way to include everyone.
One reason that many parents I spoke to held naming ceremonies is simply that they wanted to celebrate the arrival of their child with family and friends, so a party of some kind afterwards is going to go down well. You don't need to provide a sit-down formal meal; a barbecue, or afternoon tea party, or a brunch with bagels and bucks fizz... you can do anything you like.
The key to a successful naming ceremony is to gather together those most important to you, and to celebrate the arrival of your child in any way that makes you feel comfortable and full of happiness.
By Becky Alexander author of The Complete Guide to Baby Naming Ceremonies. Visit www.complete-guide-to-baby-naming-ceremonies.co.uk