A naming ceremony is a celebration at which an infant, a youth or young adult is given a name or names. The timing can vary from a few days after the birth to several months or many years later. There’s no rush - for example, many are combined first birthday celebrations, and even at joint naming ceremonies for siblings. They can even be combined with a wedding ceremony, if appropriate.
Since ancient times, the conferring of a name has been recognized as a symbol of love, acceptance, commitment and welcome. Some ceremonies have religious or cultural significance but as humanists, we offer a naming ceremony as a non-religious alternative to those. The purpose is to acknowledge and celebrate the arrival through birth, or even adoption of a child and welcome him or her into the family and circle of friends. The structure led by a humanist celebrant usually includes a ceremony in which the parents name 'guide parents', 'mentors', ‘protectors’ or 'supporting adults', who commit to being there for the child in the event of them being unable to do so. This is often followed by a party including relatives and friends, as an expression of joy.
A ceremony can be held at home, in the park, the garden, a village hall, the zoo as appropriate…focusing on the individual child, their personality and the family and friends that surround them.
A typical naming ceremony can include music, readings or poems, parental promises to the child and perhaps a symbolic action such as planting a tree, a communal blessing by the guests, signing a certificate or writing in a well-wishing book. A change of name can also be recognised with a naming ceremony, whether it be the celebration of the joining of two families, or the conferring of a special name on someone in celebration of an age/stage transition or achievement.
There’s no prescribed script for a humanist naming ceremony – it’s too personal an occasion for that, for every one is tailored to meet the family’s particular wishes.