Humanist Namings are the alternative to the religious practice of a ‘christening’ which is the initiation of a baby into a religious sect which is an infant exorcism. Naming ceremonies are sincere, personal, family-centred, creative and fun occasions and can be a little emotional too.
Naming ceremonies are individual and personal and usually include spoken contributions from parents, grandparents, others/children and mentors/oddparents after an introduction by the celebrant and the formal naming of the child. The ceremony is usually enlivened by the humour that the participants bring to their contributions. As namings are the only child-centred rite-of-passage ceremony it will often include contributions from children and readings/songs for children. They will be held at home, in the garden, park or at a pub/hotel/community venue.
I have taken ceremonies for older children and whole family dedications.
Nameday Book I strongly recommend that parents get a Nameday book for their little one and invite all those coming to bring along something for it so that that she/he has something to look back on and cherish in years to come, eg a poem, a quotation, an acrostic*, a piece of advice, a bit of family history/lore, a recipe, information/memory of the little one’s parents, a list of their favourite things, a promise, a wish, a photo, picture etc. I think it is interesting to get handwritten contributions especially from grandparents and family members.
*An acrostic is a little piece using the initials of the baby’s name and children are very good at writing and performing them.
A typical order of ceremony would be –
Introduction, welcome and explanation for the ceremony.
Contributions from parents, grandparents, children relatives and friends which can be a combination of readings, personal thoughts, wishes, promises, music, singing etc. There might be some child-centred singing.
The appointment of mentors./oddparents. This might include a brief introduction by the parents saying why they have chosen them followed by contributions from the oddparents which could include a video if absent.
The Toast – bubbly, bubbles, poppers, sparklers and percussive instruments!
Then there is usually feasting, music, children’s entertainment and convivial conversation.
For the formal Naming of the child a symbolic gesture of lighting of candles, more usually I kiss the baby on behalf of all those present!
Parents speak – stating their hopes for their little one, making promises to them, relating the time leading up to their birth and their arrival, explanation of the names chosen etc.
Grandparents contribution. This might include some family lore, thoughts on been made grandparents, memories of the parents when they were children, a favourite family poem/reading/musical tribute etc.
Others. This section may include something from aunts/uncles/cousins/friends/singing.
The appointment of oddparents. They are people who have been chosen to play a special part in a child’s life. The parents would probably mention why they have chosen the oddparents. The child, I reckon, has a right to know why these people have been chosen for them as one assumes they were not chosen at random out of a hat! (Perhaps, one day a couple may well decide to do just that!)
The Oddparents speeches. They may have some advice, warnings, memories of the parents, promises, hopes, wishes etc. all expressed with humour, of course. Again, I have witnessed some wonderful contributions that have been both funny and emotional.
I think that these Naming/Dedication ceremonies are very important in our changing and fragmented society as so many people no longer adhere to religious beliefs and rituals. I think that a child’s arrival is a momentous event and should be celebrated with a ceremony and they should be given the opportunity to have oddparents especially appointed to play a part in their lives.
My fee for Naming ceremonies is £200.
I do conduct a combined ceremony Naming/Wedding Vows ceremonies. This all-in-one ceremony celebrating a couple and their new family could replace a traditional wedding ceremony. It is the sensible, practical, rational, simple, inexpensive alternative to weddings for those who are cohabiting and have a child/children. They are less daunting to organise compared to a wedding and yet they are just as meaningful.
Here is a video about combined Naming/Weddng Ceremonies.