In her guest blog, Christine Berrisford discusses what a Humanist Naming Ceremony involves and why they are the perfect way to welcome your child with honesty, warmth and affection.
Guideparents’ handprints to commemorate a Naming celebration
The arrival of a child is a truly life-changing event and one that many of us want to mark with ritual and ceremony – to bring our friends and family together to mark such a special occasion.
But for many of us, a religious service just isn’t an appropriate choice.
Humanist Naming Ceremonies are becoming an increasingly popular alternative that give you the opportunity to reflect and acknowledge the joy, wonder and responsibility of bringing a child into the world in a way that is not religious.
They are relaxed, happy and personal occasions and since every ceremony is written specifically for you, each one is unique.
They are held by all sorts of people who want to mark the arrival of their child but also want their child to be able to decide for themselves, as they get older, what they do or don’t believe about religion.
Naming ceremonies can be held wherever suits you best: a village hall, in hotels, at home, in the garden, at the park, perhaps even at the zoo!
What A Ceremony Involves
There is no set structure to be followed – each ceremony is written from scratch to include exactly what suits you. A ceremony might include music, readings, or poems and perhaps a symbolic act such as planting a tree, or passing on of family keepsakes.
You can express your love for your child and publicly pledge your commitment to their welfare.
You can also involve other significant people – Grandparents and older siblings for example. You can choose to appoint ‘Guideparents’, rather in the tradition of ‘godparents’, though they might alternatively be termed ‘supporting adults’, ‘mentors’ or even ‘odd-parents’ or ‘sparents’!
The only limitation is your imagination!
For Families of all Shapes and Sizes
Although they are often called ‘baby’ namings or welcomings, these occasions are suitable for children of all ages. The Naming ceremony approach can be adapted to suit different circumstances – combined with a first birthday; joint ceremonies for siblings; to mark the blending of a new step-family; to formally welcome adopted children and to mark a coming of age.
Who Conducts Naming Ceremonies?
Namings are written and conducted by celebrants – highly trained by Humanists UK and with a wealth of experience, your celebrant will guide you through the whole process, offering practical tips and lots of suggestions to help you create a completely personal and incredibly meaningful celebration.
And if you live in North Leeds and think a Naming ceremony sounds just what you’re looking you have a local celebrant right on your doorstep!
Based in Roundhay, I have been a celebrant for 7 years and I’m happy to offer you a free, no obligation meeting to discuss your ideas.
A testimonial from a parent who recently had a naming ceremony:
“We’d like our son to be able to make his own choices as to what he believes, so a christening didn’t feel right for us, but at the same time, I also wanted to make some parental promises to G that couldn’t have fitted with simply having a party. Having looked on Humanist UK website, a naming ceremony seemed the perfect solution.
Christine was very easy to work with, we quizzed her a fair bit initially as we knew only a little of the work that Humanist UK does, wanting to ensure they were right for us, and she happily answered all our questions. She then took time over a few mugs of tea to understand us, our family and our ambitions for the day.
After that, Christine developed a draft which required only a little editing – she found the words to convey our feelings just perfectly. Having written our promises and full script ourselves, the service felt so much more personal, and Christine hit the perfect balance of formality and fun that worked for us, celebrating our baby’s arrival, whilst also thanking our family and friends for their help and support.
We had so much lovely feedback from everyone after the service, even those who were a bit unsure what to expect beforehand! Thanks so much for a perfect day Christine!”