(Serving the Amicalola Falls area in the North Georgia Mountains)
You may choose to have a Baby Naming Ceremony instead of a Christening. Begin by giving the purpose of a Naming Ceremony, and say a bit about the new child’s family (names of grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.)
Here’s an example of a First reading you could use for the Baby Naming Ceremony: ‘What We Are’ By Frances G Wickes:
“No-one is born a new being. He bears in his psyche the input of past generations. He is a combination of ancestral units from which a new being must be fused, yet he also bears within him an essential germ, a potential of a unique individual value. The discovery of this unique essence and its development is the quest of consciousness.”
Officiant: “What have you named this child?
Parents: Child’s name
Here you can say something about the meaning of the name, who the child is named after or for and why. Parents can read a welcome to the new life and welcome her/him into the circle of family and friends. There can also be an expression of some of their hopes for her/his development and self worth in the Baby Naming Ceremony.
Suggestion for a Second reading: “Meditation on the Upbringing of Children” by Dorothy Lowe Nolle:
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn;
If children live with hostility, they learn how to fight;
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy;
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient;
If children live with encouragement, they learn to have
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate;
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith;
If children live with approval, they learn to like
If children live with love around them, they learn to
give love to the world.
The parents can read their personal promise to the child and then make their formal promises to her/him – answering ‘We promise’ to a series of statements next in the Baby Naming Ceremony.
Then the celebrant can talk about the importance of other people, outside the immediate family circle, when raising children and introduce any of these as the Guardians, Supporting Adults, Guide Parents or even Odd Parents. Their role is taking a special interest in the child’s development and being a source of advice and a listening ear for both the parents and the child as the child grows towards adulthood.
Please note that the word "Guardian" as used in a Baby Naming Ceremony is not the same as the legal term of naming a guardian for your child should anything happen to the parents. The latter has to be done through a lawyer.
“Do you promise to accept a special commitment to Child’s name, to offer friendship and sanctuary so that she/he can turn to you in times of doubt or difficulty, with confidence and trust?”
Answer: “I promise.”
You can also choose to give the child a flower as a symbol of her/his growth as an added touch to the Baby Naming Ceremony.
“In this ceremony, we give Child’s Name a flower: It symbolizes the beauty and wonder of life, and the meaning of your dedication. Whether a flower comes into full bloom or not, whether it grows tall and strong, whether its purpose is fulfilled, depends on the nurture it receives. No flower grows alone, apart from the sunshine and the rain, apart from the soil from which it grows. So, too, no child grows up alone, and you are here for Child’s name, in all the seasons and the times of his days.”
You can also choose to give a small gift to the child during the Baby Naming Ceremony, such as a bracelet that can later be worn on a bride's bouquet or the groom's boutonniere when either gets married later on. (See Christening Ceremonies for some suggestions for this.)
The British Humanist Association has a booklet with lots of information on Baby Naming Ceremonies from which the following has been taken, due to the kind generosity of a mother who used this info.
Here’s an example of the order of a naming ceremony:
BABY NAMING CEREMONY
Celebrant: On behalf of parent’s names, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to this baby naming ceremony, which has been created with much planning, thought and love.
With great honor I have the pleasant duty of officially naming Child’s name and welcoming her/him into her/his community of family and friends. And we do so for a number of reasons.
Firstly, parent’s names wish to express their joy about Child’s name's arrival on month, day, year. They want to introduce her/him to the wider community of their friends and the world. They wish you all to share this joy. They would also like you to join with them in celebrating the official naming of their baby girl/boy. Your presence at this Baby Naming Ceremony today is greatly appreciated.
I will now read a poem called “Family”
A family is a place to cry, laugh and vent frustrations,
To ask for help, tease and yell,
To be touched and hugged and smiled at.
A Family is people, who care when you are sad,
Who love you no matter what, and share your triumphs;
Who don't expect you to be perfect,
Just growing with honesty, in your own direction.
Family is a circle
Where we learn to like ourselves
Where we learn to make good decisions, and think before we do.
Where we learn integrity and table manners,
And respect for other people.
Where we are special, and share ideas.
Where we listen and are listened to.
Where we learn the rules of life
To prepare ourselves for the world
The world is a place, where anything can happen,
If we grow up in a loving family, we are ready for the world.
Ladies and gentleman, I am now going to ask parent’s names to make promises as parents in front of you, their family and friends, and as such, those who mean the most to them in the world.
“Do you promise to nurture and protect child’s name throughout her/his life, and do you promise to support and offer her/him guidance in the choices that she/he will make?”
Answer: “We Do.”
“Do you promise to teach child’s name right from wrong to enable her/him to make her/his place in society as a kind and caring person?”
Answer: “We Do.”
(Parents together repeat after me:)
“We promise to be the best parents we can be.”
Parent’s names have chosen two Guardians (or whatever term you decide on for your baby naming ceremony) for child’s name today. A wonderful tradition in our culture on these occasions is the responsibility accepted by guardians. The Guardians will undertake a special and lifelong interest in the welfare of child’s name.
Today Guardian’s names have agreed to become involved in child’s name’s life by promising to be there for her/him should she/he need support, wisdom, comfort or guidance.
They have been chosen by parent’s names because of their connection with them, the family, and because of their similar beliefs. The fact that they have been chosen by parent’s names, is an indication of their position of trust and respect within this family.
Being mindful of this, I now ask of the guardians, guardian’s names, do you accept this responsibility?
(Guardians reply) “We do.”
I will now call upon each Guardian as well as parents, parent’s names, to present their gift to symbolize them now becoming part of child’s name's life, and tell her/him their wish for her/him.
(You may substitute any gift of your choice for your particular baby naming ceremony.)
First Guardian: My wish for you is – Success & Health, (present the bracelet on child’s wrist)
Second Guardian: My wish for you is Love & Happiness, (present the bracelet on child’s wrist)
Mother - Our wish is for you is to be the best you can be, (present the bracelet on child’s wrist)
Father - Our promise to you is protection and guidance, (present the bracelet on child’s wrist)
Reading 2 (the Guardians)
Guardians to provide a poem (possibly “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran)
Parent’s names chose the name _____ - (give reason why this name was chosen and what it means.)
We all agree to call you child’s name.
Child’s name, we hope that you will wear your name with pride, happiness and strength. We wish you long life and happiness, in a loving and peaceful world. May you bring joy to your parents, grandparents, your Guardians and to us all.
Father to provide a nice speech for child’s name.
Celebrant holding child's hand: I now name you child’s name, may life's richest joys and blessings be yours. May you grow in health of body and mind to full adult hood and it be your good fortune to play some worthy part in making life pleasant for those whose paths you cross.
Mother’s name now has a special poem written by her for child’s name.
Child’s name, the day you entered the world, you became our world.
We never knew we could love someone so much or feel so much joy with a single touch.
You have taught us both how great life can be
Words cannot express what you have brought to your dad and to me
Today we want to share with everyone just how much we love you,
Everything about you, everything you do
Your smile, your laugh, your beautiful eyes
Your little ways and your little cries.
_______is the name we chose for you
Wear it with pride with all that you do,
We love you with all of our heart,
We knew that right from the very beginning, right from the start
Nothing will change that no matter what you do,
Be all that you can and always be you.
______ you are the greatest gift of all,
Thank you for choosing us to be your parents,
We wouldn't have it any other way
We love you daughter and hope you enjoy your day.