Naming ceremonies are a secular, yet special, welcome to new additions to a family. In days gone by children were often baptised or christened. This was a great opportunity for the whole community to say ’welcome’. Welcome to this family and welcome to this community. It was a chance for everyone to meet the new child and to support the family. The child was gifted their full name at this point and recognised. Often ‘godparents’ were chosen and charged with the spiritual care of the child, in addition to the parents.
Naming ceremonies provide a similar opportunity to bring families and friends together to say ‘welcome’ and to formally name a child and bring it into the family. This can be done in the first few months of life, sometimes later as a marker of a first birthday or when adoption papers are finalised.
The ‘godparent’ role has been replaced by ‘guide parents’ or ‘mentors’. These are adults chosen by the family to have a special role in the child’s life. As a ‘guide mother’ myself I have permission to have an extra level of friendship in my guide daughter’s life.
The ceremony can be personalised for each family and often involves grandparents, other children in the family and friends. I have had grandparents say how worried they were that the naming wouldn’t be ‘proper’ and an adequate replacement for a christening. Without exception they have loved the opportunity to be involved themselves and the happy sincere ceremony they experienced.