As my boy and I are not religious, we would have felt hypocritical to have our sons Christened in a church.
That said, what do you do, when you would like to mark a child’s arrival in a significant way but want something more than a party?
A naming day is the perfect solution!
Naming ceremonies — unlike weddings — can be held wherever you like; at home, in the park, a garden, village hall etc. You do not need to conduct them on a licensed premises plus they can be performed, simply, by a family member or if you want to go down a more formal route, which we did, you can contact The British Humanist Association or the AOIC – The Association of Independent Civil Celebrants.
We chose the latter and I contacted three local celebrants in our area to find out about what they had to offer.
There was quite a disparity in the prices I was quoted — almost £100 from the cheapest to the most expensive — but in the end we didn’t go with the most cost effective option. Instead, we chose the person who we felt offered the best package for us and the one we felt most comfortable with.
Our celebrant came to the house for a face-to-face meeting; the other two didn’t offer this service but chose to conduct their dealings with us via phone and email. The fact that we would get to meet our chosen celebrant before the naming day was fairly important to Dickie and me, which is why we finally decided on Peter Wyllie.
We discussed the kind of ceremony we wanted; the tone and format of the day, whether we wanted readings or music etc…
We expressed the importance of the actual ceremony to him, as although we wanted a happy, informal day, it was essential to Dickie and me that the ceremony itself conveyed the importance of why we were doing it.
To almost have the same solemnity of our marriage vows.
As I mentioned in my previous post about The Twinkles’ Naming Day, we had chosen to host the celebration at our friend’s home. Staverton Hall has a gorgeous double length drawing room, which was perfect for the ceremony. The reception was then held in a marquee in the garden.
Having the ceremony separate from the reception certainly gave more of a sense of occasion. We were able to seat around adults with children sitting on laps or the floor, which made it feel a little more informal.
Peter was a born entertainer and on the day itself he conducted the naming ceremony with ease. Explaining to our guests what the relevance of the day meant, he said that ‘In almost all cultures, in every country, humans hold ceremonies to mark the more important stages of life.’
He went on to say that we, as parents, will be dedicating our lives to the upbringing of our boys in a series of promises. And making these promises in front of our friends and family will help us to keep them.
Plus it was an opportunity to officially appoint our godparents — or in secular speak — ‘guideparents’ — other significant adults, who will look out for the boys and guide them on their journey through life. Our own mums and dads, plus the guideparents, also made promises to the babies. This was a lovely part of the ceremony as upon making our vows, Dickie and I, plus the boys’ grandparents and guideparents were given a tea-light which we lit from a double wicked candle that represented the twins. The 12 tea-lights were then placed around the candle in a beautiful circle of light.
It was lovely to be making these vows to these two precious little boys; surrounded by friends and loved ones.
When Dickie and I were married, we had a couple of readings. One of which was a passage on ‘Marriage’ from ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran. It seemed fitting that one of the boy’s guidefathers — who had read at our wedding — did the same at the babies’ naming day and he and his wife read another passage from ‘The Prophet’; this time on children.
On Children — Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
The ceremony was pretty short — 15-20 minutes in total. The content was personal and meaningful and there was no fire and brimstone or a lengthy sermon about something unrelated, which invariably happens in a church based Christening. Most of our guests had never been to a secular ceremony, of this kind, before and thought it was beautiful.
If you do not hold any religious beliefs, a naming day celebration is the perfect alternative to a Christening.
You can choose the venue, music, readings and really set the tone of the day to suit you and your family.
The only limit — cost aside — is your imagination!