Some cultures have lots of traditions that bring families together, that is such a beautiful thing to see. In some families the whole family (generations of parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc) get together only at Christmas, if you’re lucky, and sometimes at funerals. If it is the later it is with a heavy heart that you regret not finding the time to do it more often. Promises are made each Christmas not to leave it another 12 months, and then life returns to its usual busy self and 12 months passes. I have been excited to bring new traditions to my family and those big days have, to date, have been some of the most cherished memories I’ve made as a mother.
Christenings and baptisms are still a common practice, however more so to families who are actively involved with their church. This leaves an opening for families who are not actively involved in a faith. Or for families that are made up of believers and non-believers, like my husband and I. I would have happily christened our children in the Catholic church, like my brother and I were. I am fond of traditions and I enjoy looking over our family pictures of us in our little gowns with our family, many of whom who have passed on since. There is so much love in those photos, I can see how proud my grandparents are holding on to my brother and I, and so pleased be a part of something so special.
So my husband and I compromised, we had a Naming day for our #babies. While I am a celebrant, I was only a new #celebrant when I got married myself, having officiated just the two weddings for family and friends before my own big day. The Naming day for my daughter was the first naming day that I had ever been to. Since then I have officiated numerous naming ceremonies.
When I had asked my husband if he minded if we did a naming day for our daughter he responded by asking me what it was. mmmmm ….. I poorly explained that it would be like a christening, but without the religion components, and not at the church. To be truthful, I wasn’t entirely sure myself at that time what it would be and what it would look like for us. However he seemed to think I knew enough or my case was valid and I went about researching Naming day ceremonies some more. We held the ceremony where I fondly refer to as the ‘family tree’, that is, in my parents garden under the same tree that we had been married at almost 18 months before.
On the day of her #naming day our daughter was 7 months old and when we had our son he had his naming day when he was 6 months old. A lot of people chose to have a Naming day on the same day that they celebrate the child’s first birthday, I personally prefer to have multiple celebrations.
A #namingceremony’s purpose is to officially give a child their name and to make the name known to all their friends and family. A name is very important. To give something a name is to give it power. A name distinguishes us from others and gives us a sense of belonging in our family and in our community. However by the time the ceremony is held the child is already known by the family and friends who have been enjoying the baby for some time. So technically it is not really a naming ceremony as such, it is more of a way of formally introducing the baby to everyone that will provide support and encouragement on the life journey ahead.
There is an old African proverb that states “It takes a village to raise a child” and I have always loved the expression, I love the romantic old images it conjures up within me. When I hear it I reflect on my own childhood and my large extended ‘family’ that included my aunts and uncles but also the close friends to my parents. My fathers best friend that he grew up with since primary school, they are still best friends today. He was my godfather and then he was the MC at my 21st, my 30th and also for our wedding. Growing up in a ‘village’, a community of friends and family, will allow the child to draw on many strands of experience and years of wisdom which will help prepare the baby for whatever path they may choose.
A naming day is about making a commitment to the future of the baby. In the years to follow, everyone may have the opportunity to contribute to the little ones development by sharing the knowledge and experience they have gained in their lives and can pass on. The more love a child receives, the more love the child will be able to give to others. The more people that make up her world, the richer her world will be. The support of friends and family will be invaluable to the parents. As a mum I feel blessed to enjoy the support from my family and friends in raising my children and I feel confident that there is a rich source of people that my children can go to for help and guidance as they grow up. I am aware that there will be times when my little ones would prefer to go to someone other myself and husband, and it feels reassuring to know that they have so many people to turn to.
During the ceremony, either the #Namingday or at the church with a christening special people are appointment to the child. Generally they are known as the #Godparents or also either their Guardians or Mentors. These special roles are given to special people who are significant to the child and are trusted by the parents. By accepting the role of Godparent/guardian they are saying to the baby, and to all of the world, “I promise I will be there for you as you grow up”.