From christenings and baptisms to Namakarma Sanskars and Brit Milahs, the arrival of a new baby is a cause for celebration all around the world. But now more and more people are looking for non-religious ways to commemorate the birth of a child - and top of the list is a naming ceremony.
What is a naming ceremony?
A baby naming ceremony is a purely celebratory affair with no legal bearing. An increasingly popular alternative to the more traditional services, it doesn't follow any religious rules and focuses on the relationship between the child and the parents, rather than welcoming that child in a faith. No one is required to declare their beliefs, and the ceremonies can be held anywhere; they are not confined to a religious place of worship (much like weddings, many venues across the UK are happy to host them). They can also be conducted no matter what the age of the child, and don't need to be officiated by a religious figure - there are organisations like the British Humanist Association that can help arrange the special event and provide a trained 'celebrant' if you like. A naming ceremony provides the perfect opportunity to welcome your little one into the world and introduce them officially to friends and family. It is also a time to make promises to your baby.
How does it work?
One of the best things about a naming ceremony is that there are no rules to follow - you can tailor-make your day to suit you. Generally speaking, the ceremony will start with an introduction and welcome to guests, followed by a reading before role models/guides/mentors (an alternative to godparents) express their commitment to the child. Often there is then the 'Giving of the Name', another reading and a final declaration. The ceremony ends with the signing of a certificate. But it really can be as simple, or extravagant as you like. From the dress code to the little extras - favourite pieces of music, poems, or the exchanging of gifts - it's up to you!
What happens afterwards?
Whatever the family likes. You might choose to hold a big party at the venue, sit down for a three-course dinner, or head home for some champagne and cupcakes; the possibilities are endless. For more information about BHA naming ceremonies visit www.humanism.org.uk