Naming Ceremony

A naming ceremony of some type is common to most societies. It is a ceremony where a new born is introduced to his/her community as well as to the spirit world. It is an important ceremony for the family and friends that are involved even if it does not mean much to the infant at this point in time. It makes the newborn a real and concrete member of the community. This is one reason why christenings are such a large social event among many Christians. Even if you plan to let your child pick his/her own faith when they grow up, you should still consider this ceremony. It is very important socially, not to mention that it brings the infant to the attention of the powers that be, whatever he/she will call them later, during one of the most vulnerable times of their life.

Naming ceremonies are normally done no sooner than one week after birth (to allow for recovery of both baby and mother from the birth) and normally no longer than a couple of months after the birth (if more time passes the infant is already a part of the community and has probably already been called to the attention of the spirit world in some way so it becomes a rather moot point). The ceremony is best done at sunrise or at least in the morning and is best if done during a full or waxing moon.

New parents should invite family and friends that they feel will be close during the child’s life. A naming ceremony can be simple and non-denominational enough that those of other faiths should feel comfortable attending (unless of course they want the baby to get baptized, but that’s another story).

Ask each guest to bring a gift for the child, something simple that symbolizes an attribute or virtue they hope the child will grow to have (like an image of a dove to symbolize peace). Make sure they understand this is NOT like a baby shower. These gifts will be kept in a box until the child comes of age (either at the start of puberty or when they leave home whichever the parents prefer). Have them attach their name and a word or two that describes the gift to the gift with a bit of ribbon or yarn. For example, "Aunt Sally hopes you will have peace in your life." The mother and father, or godparents or grandparents if the parents are overwhelmed with the new baby, should find and decorate a box to use for the ceremony and to store the gifts in till they are given to the child when they come of age.

For this ceremony the mother and father can act as the officiator/priest/priestess, or if they prefer someone else can officiate. For the ceremony the child should be dressed in white and well fed and changed before hand. You might want to refrain from calling the child by its given name until they are names in the actual ceremony.

You can if you want open a circle like you would for any ritual if the guests will be conducive. If not just do a very simple circle mentally right before the start of the ceremony.

Officiator: "Will the Mother of the infant please bring the child forward!"

Mother walks up to the Officiator (with husband if applicable) and then turns to face the guests.

Officiator (standing behind Mother): "Family, friends and all the positive powers of the universe (or any particular deities you prefer), I ask you to look upon this infant."

At this point if the child is going along with the entire process it would be good to lift him/her up towards the heavens. (It also lets the people in back see more of the ceremony.)

Officiator: "He/She is the newest member of our family. He/She will grow strong and healthy surrounded by our love and nurturing."

You can let the baby down now. (grin)

Officiator: For him/her to be a part of our lives we must have a name by which to call him/her."

Mother turns to Officiator

Officiator: "What is this child to be named?"

Father (or Mother is you prefer): "This child is to be named ___________"

Officiator says the child’s name loud enough for all to hear. Then says "Greetings, __________, and welcome to our hearts and homes." If the Officiator is a friend or family member (other than mom or dad) now is when they should present their gift to the child saying, "I bring you "Peace" and hope you will find it in your life," and placing the gift in the box. (That last part does not have to be loud enough for the audience to hear.)

Mother turns back around to face the group. Then the Officiator will address the audience, "Does anyone (or anyone else if the Officiator has given the child a gift) have a gift to bless ______________ with?"

Someone will have been told ahead of time what to do (godparents or grandparents are a good call) and will start a line coming up one by one to ooh and ahh over the baby and give it their gifts using the same general terminology the Officiator did. Prewarning people and explaining the ceremony ahead of time, even if it is just before the ceremony, will help this part a lot!

When everyone has given their gifts the Officiator will call forward the godparents, if any. "Would _______ and ________ please step forward?"

Once they are in the front facing the Officiator and Mother, Father and newly named child the Officiator will continue, "______(Father) and _______(Mother) love you dearly and value your morals and believe that you each have much you can teach _________(child). They would ask that you serve as the teachers and guardians of _______(child) in the event that they are no longer able to. Will you accept this responsibility and honor?" (Please make sure they will say yes ahead of time!!!!)

They should respond in unison, "We would be honored to." Then hugs from the Mother and Father would be in order.

Finally the Officiator should close the ceremony with, "Thank you all for coming here today and meeting the newest member of our family and community. Go well and Stay well."

Then close the circle or if you did it mentally, just let it go.