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Friday, June 26, 2015

Naming Ceremonies

You know the rhyme, first comes love then comes marriage and then comes a baby carriage. A little over a year ago, I posted my first blog, "Why I refused to Baptize my Child."  A year later, my blog is slowly improving. Now I wish to return to the subject of naming ceremonies.

Naming Ceremony
Not to be confused with the Jewish B'rit Bat tradition. Pagan naming ceremonies have existed in many forms. Naming the child, give recognition of the new person, a key component of their identity. This ceremony is done often to a small child or infant. Many cultures had a waiting period before such ceremonies, in case the baby did not survived. This was sadly a common occurrence when these customs began. Now a days, naming ceremonies are as much about the celebration of birth as well as the life itself.

"How does a pagan naming ceremony differ from a baptism?"
  1. A baptism is an act that is believed to wash away original sin, i.e. sex from a their biological parents. Most pagans do not recognize original sin. Sex is not deemed as sinful. Hence this concept is actually insulting as well as unnecessary.
  2. Naming Ceremonies are a commitment parents make, not a commitment for the child. Parents in naming ceremonies may commit to certain methods and ideas in raising their children, but the child is not committed to a religion. Where baptism.often commits the child to Christianity. 
"How old should my child be for the ceremony?"

Spiritually, I hold to the belief, that scab on the cord should fall off before the naming ceremony is done. I believe that natural act helps separates the child from the birth mother. Which is fairly young. Ancient families would often wait nearly a year before naming the baby. Today,unless you choose a group of some sorts with certain rules regarding age to conduct the ceremony, any age is usually fine. I wanted to do the ceremony while my daughter was still a baby. Some people choose to wait until the child is old enough to remember the ceremony. In adoption situations, the child could be any age and is receiving a new last name at least and a new family. This child could be a new born to a young adult teenager.

"Why have a naming ceremony, especially if I'm not religious?"

 It's great way to introduce your new child to family, friends, coven, church, fellowship, community etc... Life is about moments of of celebration. Nothing like the celebration of a new child.
Naming Ceremonies can be secular, as well as religious. They aren't required, but it's nice for the child to know they brought celebration to the family. It is a way to celebrate your new child as well as leave images of the joy you as parents felt in having this child.

My personal circumstances involved my husband family, mostly Catholic, meaning we will be attending lots of christening ceremonies. I didn't want my daughter to feel left out, but I wasn't going to allow a baptism. We didn't do things exactly the same way, but it shows how much she was loved as a baby.

"What commitment will I have to make?"

It depends, what commitments are you able and willing to make? If you are doing the ceremony through a church, fellowship, coven or any sort of group, it will likely be to their methodology. Hence you should study up what this organization teaches and expects.

If you aren't going through a group, you can simply write your own vows. You can vow to offer guidance, love, discipline, etc... You can also vow to give your child the right of freedom of thought and expression. Whatever matters to you.

"Who will conducts the ceremony?"


If you are pagan, a priest and / or priestess of similar beliefs, can conduct a spiritual ceremony for you. Certain churches and fellowships are helpful with ministers able and willing to conduct pagan ceremonies. Unitarian Universalist and military chaplains are able to preform the ceremony.
If you are looking for a more secular or casual ceremony, friends and family saying a few things in an informal service will often do.


"Where would you have a naming ceremony?"

Location is based off what your limits are. If you can afford a catering hall, with a garden , by all means do so. If money isn't so bountiful, there are many economical options. See "Locations pros and cons" in the article "Keeping Birthdays Special."

"How do I dress my child, family, self and ask of guests?"

It can be as casual to fancy, as you want. You can have the infant naked, while everyone else is wearing jeans and T-shirts in your BBQ backyard celebration, to your great grandmother's antique silk christening gown, at a catering hall, with a banquet feast.

I chose to go a bit fancy with the dress for my daughter. I got the dress second hand, but it was stunning. I didn't go with traditional white, but a light pink. The service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stony Brook and reception at my home. Pizza and cake were served.

"What gifts should one bring or suggest to bring for the ceremony."

If the guest is of similar path as the parents, a spiritual gift is acceptable. Age appropriate and safe jewelry of spiritual significance. Many pagan parents will welcome most spiritual gifts, as long as it isn't abusive.

(I do discourage Christian crosses and crucifixes, because to many spiritual paths is a symbol of death.)

If the parents or guest aren't spiritual, I suggest books. I did this with my daughter ceremony. I told guest, if they insist on bringing a gift, a book they themselves read and were positively effected by. To share that joy to my child. Of course people brought clothes and toys as well. Bless them!

Traditional nonreligious keepsakes are welcome, like little boxes for baby teeth and hair clippings. Picture frames, fancy stuff toys, clothes, shoes, little comb and brush sets, and other little gifts that are special.

Btw grandma and grandpa, family tree scrapbooks are precious treasures!


God/s/Spiritual Parents
 If you are polytheist, I suggest the term godsparents. However spiritual parent or family also works. This concept has been around for thousands of years. Often the spiritual parents adopted the spiritual children, in the event of the biological parents death. This was a very real concern, with disease, war, famine, etc... killing thousands, having a back up family was practical. Today, legal practices are required to set up a will, to make your wishes known. Now god parents don't have to be the one person you entrust your children up bring, but people you want your child to have connection with.

You also don't have to be traditional. You can have same sex spiritual parents, you can have just one or more than two. I gave my daughter a spiritual sibling. I asked my flower girl to be my daughter spiritual sister. Both are only children, so I gave her a little sister and she gave my little girl a big sister.

Suggestive readings and songs for the ceremony

"We all come from the Goddess"


Louis Armstrong "what a wonderful world."


Spirit of Life

words by Carolyn McDade

Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me,
Come to me.

Kahlil Gibran On Children...

Harry Belafonte "Turn the world around" 





  Rituals

Naming Ceremony by Helen

Naming traditions and ceremonies from around the world

"Baby Naming and Welcoming Ceremony " 

Naming Ceremony

"How to hold a naming ceremony for your baby"


Traditions and Keepsakes


Blessing stones: take quartz or other precious stones and have all attendances hold a stone, sending positive energy towards the child. You can make the stones into beads and string them into a necklace or chain. Or you can keep the stones in a jar, bag or box.



Keepsake book, picture frame, card, etc...: people names and well wishes.  Give your child a little physical contact with the past.

Video, photos and scrapbooks: Recorded memories. Faces, voices, sounds, artistic expression of love. Never undermine such gifts.

Planting a tree, bush or flower garden: If possible, planting part or all of the child's placenta from their birth with it. Make sure it's in a place where it won't be cut down and try to avoid dangerous areas like flood areas, fire areas, etc.....



Donations: if the child has or had a medical condition, you may want to donate to a cause or the hospital the assisted the child.


Blessing upon you and that of your family .
 May your child's naming ceremony
 bring you fond memories,
 especially when things are down.  
Don't underestimate these little celebrations..
May your child/ren bring you joy! 

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