A naming ceremony is the secular equivalent of a christening where a name is bestowed and the newly named is introduced to their family and community. It conjures up in your mind images of welcoming a new baby however it is not just used in the case of a new-born. There are so many other reasons that we would perform a naming ceremony, some of which only became apparent to me when I began to study celebrancy.
The obvious one is the naming of a new-born baby. All parents are completely enthralled with their new-born child and want to celebrate that new life and introduce their beloved baby to their family and friends. It is such a joyous occasion and marks the start of their journey through life as a family whatever way that family may be structured.
The naming ceremony may also be for an adopted child of any age and is the perfect ceremony to acknowledge and welcome them into their new family and shout to the world that they have arrived to make the family complete.
There may be occasions to have a naming ceremony to join two families who are blending together where each set of children are named and embraced into the other side of the new family. The symbolism of this sometimes helps to ease the transition of blending together and accept that they are now a full unit that work in harmony together to create the new family.
But there are also name changing ceremonies that I am hoping I may be involved in at some stage throughout my career as a celebrant, as it would be an honour and a privilege for me to lead these ceremonies.
In our rapidly changing world, many situations have come to light which would harden your heart and leave you in despair for the fate of this world of ours. The treatment of some people by individuals and institutions of church and state has given us so much to think about and be ashamed of. That is why the name changing ceremony is a very important one and one that should be encouraged in affected communities.
For years in Ireland, and I imagine right across the world, mothers and babies have been wrongly institutionalised because they posed an embarrassment to the societies in which we lived several years ago. Through no fault of their own they were locked away from the world and forgotten about, even though they had done nothing wrong and caused no harm. Now it is time that they can be recognised as themselves, not a member of these broken institutions. To this end many of those who have suffered are deciding to choose their own name and shed the one that they were given, or answered to, in these horrid places. This is the start of their new beginning and a chance for them to declare to the world that they are their own person and deserve to shed the bonds of such places.
Another example of a name changing ceremony would be for members of the transgender community who have transitioned into the person who they were meant to be and want to mark their triumph with a celebration of their gender and their new name.
The name changing ceremony is such an emotional step for all, and one that is a joy to even contemplate, it is one that I really hope to see more of in the future.
All the above are very joyous occasions and the celebration of each one of them is a very special day for all involved. The ceremonies can be held anywhere with special meaning or significance for those involved. The ceremony can include beautiful poetry, prose, music, fun and laughter. There are many additional ceremony enhancements that can be included some of which are.
A ceremony to bestow the name
Hand and footprint ceremony
Planting a tree
Rose petal ceremony
You are not limited in anything you wish to have for your ceremony. The most important thing is that you enjoy the ceremony and create a memory for life.