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Naming ceremony, Devon celebrant, Starcross Yacht club

A Double Celebration For Ula

On 14th April this year, I headed to Starcross Yacht Club and presented a Naming Ceremony for Tim and Shiona’s beautiful daughter Ula.  This was a double celebration as it was also Ula’s first birthday the following day.

Both Shiona and Tim have a massive affinity with the sea and many happy days have been spent by them at the yacht club. It was therefore a perfect venue for Ula’s Naming Ceremony and goodness what a setting it was.

Naming ceremony, Devon celebrant, Starcross Yacht clubI think the shipping forecast would have used words along the lines of a south-westerly 3 or 4 rising – good for sailing but rather brisk conditions for a naming ceremony right on the edge of the estuary (I’ll know not to wear a wraparound dress another time on a blustery day in such an exposed location– thank heavens for the safety pins in the yacht club’s first aid box!).

Naming ceremony, Devon celebrant, Starcross Yacht clubIt was a real family affair with all hands-on deck (spot the sailing pun) with a bit of a retro feel (I very happily joining in the fun – I haven’t stuck cheese and pineapple on a cocktail stick for a long time) to get everything ready for the feast that was to follow the ceremony.

Naming ceremony, Devon celebrant, Starcross Yacht clubUla, which in Celtic means ‘jewel of sea’, surrounded by her parents, guide parents, family and friends was as good as gold.  The ceremony included two wonderful readings ‘Before you came’ by Beverley Butcher, read by her uncle and ‘You are my I love you’ by Maryann Cusimano Love, read by her Great Aunt.  We celebrated her actual naming, Ula Petrea Julia, by a rapturous three cheers followed by some energetic bubble blowing.

All in all, the happiest of days and my one and only Naming of the year.  I hope I am asked to do another soon.

Back to Basics – What Is a Naming Ceremony?

baby naming, naming ceremonyWhat is a naming ceremony?

Like a wedding, a naming ceremony, conducted by a Celebrant, is a unique and very personal way to welcome a child and officially introduce him or her to family and friends.

Naming ceremonies are appropriate for anyone, at any age.   The most common is the arrival of a new baby and the uniting of step or adopted children within a family.  More recently however, adults are taking part in naming or even re-naming ceremonies.  A famous example would be Bruce Jenner’s re-naming ceremony to change his name to Caitlin.

Whatever the age or situation, naming ceremonies involve the most important people in the individual’s life – family and special friends. In the case of a child, parents can ask other adults to play a supportive role to their child through to adult life (as godparents, mentors or supporters).

Poems, readings, music and quotes of personal significance can be used throughout the ceremony. Often a symbolic gesture is also made, such as the lighting of a candle or the planting of a tree. In addition, certificates are presented to parents and other special people as a record of the occasion.

Naming ceremonies are not a baptism or christening. While the ceremonies are non-religious, many parents with religious beliefs hold naming ceremonies to welcome their child. Doing so does not prevent the child from holding or participating in a religious ceremony at any stage of their life.

While the Naming Ceremony and accompanying documents don’t have any legal status, they are a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of their journey through life.

hand print and balloon release

Naming Ceremonies And How To Include A Sibling

The arrival of a new baby is incredibly exciting for all the family including the siblings.

It is important that a naming ceremony reflects the essence of what the occasion is all about but also that there are elements within it that include the siblings and encourage them to be actively involved. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the importance and unique closeness of the family unit.

Here are some ideas for sibling participation at a Naming Ceremony…

sand ceremonySource: Left, Right

A sand ceremony involves pouring layers of coloured sands into a vase for keeping. Parents and the children can make promises as each layer is added. Colours have different meanings. A deeply meaningful ceremony, with a lasting keepsake and the closest members of the family participating.

tree planting and wishing trees wishing treesSource: Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right

Planting a tree or shrub. All children like to get their hands dirty, hand them a spade and they would love to be involved. Plants represent new life. Nurturing and growth and of course a lasting legacy of love and commitment to a child.

Wishing Tree. Make a silhouette of a leafless tree. The details of the ceremony are printed beneath. Everyone presses a finger on colour box with ink pads the colours of the rainbow, makes a wish for the child and puts their print on the end of each branch creating finger print leaves

blowing bubblesSource: Left, Middle, Right

Blowing bubbles whilst wishes and promises are being made. Fun meaningful and spectacular. Make sure someone is not blowing bubbles but is armed with a camera!

Make sure that there are photographs of the child with its siblings on their own. Not only will it make the brother or sister feel proud and responsible but it will be a wonderful record for everyone in years to come.

A hand print collage. This is messy but a lovely idea whereby everyone makes a handprint on canvas. Yes, it can be a bit chaotic but with good organisation and preparation it’s very definitely do-able and worth it with something to keep as a memento afterwards.

End the ceremony with a balloon release.

hand print and balloon releaseSource: Left, Right

Have a look at our Pinterest page for more ideas on how to include all your children in a naming ceremony.

Naming Ceremonies – balancing sincerity with fun

The arrival of a new baby or child has always been a cause of great celebration and equally the coming together of two families or the adoption of a child. It is important for children to feel loved and supported by their family, extended family and friends.

Winnie the Pooh

Finding the time or the correct words can be hard especially when there is so much else going on. By asking someone else to conduct the ceremony and indeed to help capture your feelings, hopes and aspirations for your child, it will allow you to focus more on your family and friends and enjoy what will inevitably become a special and very memorable occasion.

A naming ceremony can take place wherever you like and whenever you like. It is entirely unique and personal to you. You can involve all the family, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters and friends. Life guardians, mentors or godparents can be chosen and they can make promises to support and play a part in the child’s life. Similar to a wedding you can include ceremonies within the main naming ceremony which make the whole occasion loads of fun and inclusive for all ages.

Here are some examples…

HANDFASTING
This can be a little complicated in the case of a baby but still very much possible and often the cause of much amusement as everyone gets in a bit of a knot literally when trying to bind a baby its life guardians.

PLANTING A TREE
This is really only possible when you are in your own garden but there is something very special and symbolic about having a tree planted in memory of such a unique day.

WISHING TREE
The silhouette of a tree with no leaves is printed on a large piece of card. All the details of the ceremony are printed underneath. The card is placed on an easel and everyone presses a finger onto a coloured ink pad and puts their finger print at the end of each branch and makes a wish

HandprintsSource: LeftTop, Bottom

CANVAS BLOCK OF HANDPRINTS
A similar idea to the Wishing Tree but has the potential to become chaotic but fun for those who participate is a Canvas Block of Handprints. A canvas block is placed on the easel. The canvas is blank except for a circle in the middle with the hand prints and even foot prints of the child. Already prepared are shallow dishes of pre-mixed water soluble paints in different colours. Each person puts a hand print on the canvas.

UNITY CANDLE
Naming day candles can be personalised and decorated with little flowers or left completely plain. The significance is no less. Parents, life guardians, grand parents can all be included by lighting their individual candles which represent specific hopes or aspirations before everyone lights the larger unity candle. There are many variations.

SAND CEREMONY
This is excellent as all children love playing with coloured sand and a wonderful way to include brothers and sisters as well as the parents. The blending of the sand represents the unity of the family. Once the sands are in the unity container they can never be separated and are forever entwined.

ROSE PETAL CEREMONY
This normally includes the closest family members or life guardians showering the baby in different rose petals similar to confetti at a wedding. Each colour can represent different qualities and aspirations such as friendships to come, love, compassion etc. A reading or poem can be read with words representing the meanings.

Balloon releaseSource: Left, Middle, Right

BALLOON RELEASE
A lovely way to finish a naming ceremony. Everyone can release one or just the parents. Balloons are a reminder of the joy and fun of childhood and can symbolise hopes and wishes for the child. Special notes can be placed on them. It’s a very jolly way to end the day when letting them all together with a big fat cheer.

MEMORY BOX
At the end of the ceremony once the balloons have flown away everyone can write their special wishes to the child and place them in a memory box which has been provided. Alternatively, special items can be placed in the box representative of the times in which the naming took place. There are no rules. It could be something precious, something symbolic, something idiotic, photographs, a letter or note. This box is kept sealed and then opened on an anniversary of their choosing perhaps an 18th or 21st and will doubtless cause much amusement in some cases but always a wonderful keepsake.

How did you celebrate the naming of your child? Did you do something unique to create a lifelong memory? We would love to hear your stories.