Some families look for a secular alternative to Baptisms and Christenings. Families who are either non-religious or religious but interested in including friends and relatives from multi-cultural backgrounds in a non-religious ceremony can hold a Baby Naming Ceremony. This is an increasingly popular event where parents can publicly welcome their child and their hopes and intentions for the child. Compared to a Baptism or Christening, a naming ceremony is more festive and can be held on any day of the week, at any time. The child is usually a toddler.
Like Baptisms or Christenings, you can have a Naming Ceremony at your house or at a neighborhood park. Things to think about when choosing your venue are any requirements for ceremonial centerpieces, number of chairs and tables.
Typically, someone close to the family is chosen to be the leader of the ceremony or the celebrant. This person functions as the host and keeps the ceremony moving on schedule, while performing and participating in any naming ceremonies. Supporting adults that function as Godparents to the child play a role in the ceremony. They usually hold the baby and make promises to support and take an interest in the child's future. Like traditional Godparents, you should select close friends or relatives whom you want to play an influential role in your child's life. Promises to the child are made by the family, supporting adults and all the attendees. They can be repeated as statements led by the celebrant or the celebrant can pose ceremonial questions to the guests.
There is usually a symbolic act during the ceremony that serves as the central moment of naming for the child. The symbolic act can be when all the guests welcome the child in unison, or the celebrant faces the guests and declares the naming and the crowd applauds, or the parents and siblings can hold the child in turn and make promises to the child. Specific phrases include: "We welcome William Daniel Merriwether to the world" or "This child is named William Daniel Merriwether and may we look after him as friends and family."
It is also a good idea to include readings, which can be a mix of religious and non-religious readings. Popular hymns and favorite poems are common for such an occasion. Selected Bible passages may also be appropriate here. Feel free to select from content that you feel is important to your family.
If you are hosting the naming ceremony at your house, think about marking the occasion by planting a tree. Make sure it is a strong tree and will have a chance to grow.
Bring a scrap book or guest book and when guests arrive, ask them to write a message for the child. The message should be one of hope and promises for the child. When the child is older, he or she can read the messages.
Like Baptisms and Christenings, the guest list will depend on the type of event you want to throw for your child. You can have a smaller event with just family and close friends, or you can invite the whole neighborhood and turn it into a large party. A good idea is to invite friends and family who you have a high regard for and that you think can play a strong and positive role in your child's life.
Below is a sample verse for a naming ceremony invitation:
Chad and Lauren
invite you to celebrate
the birth and naming of
Julia Madeline Perry
March 23 at 2 pm
789 Oak Avenue
Kindly RSVP by March 15
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