I’m a minority in this blogging world because, ready for it? I’m not Christian.
While I grew up Roman Catholic, I ventured onto my own path as an adult. For the most part this has been fine, but it was tricky when we had kids. Why? Baptism.
We wanted to recognize our children’s coming into the world in some official capacity, but were not interested in baptism. We prefer they choose their own religious affiliations, if any, when they’re older. This was a very difficult topic with my very religious parents. Given what it means to not baptize a child, I understand why it was upsetting, but this ceremony did not fit with our beliefs. We struggled to find an alternative until my sister told me about her friend’s naming ceremony. After looking into it a bit more, we knew this was the perfect way to celebrate our children in a non religious way.
If you’re thinking about throwing one yourself, first off (because I’m a teacher) here are the 5 W’s answered about planning a naming ceremony.
With the guidance of the same lay chaplain who performed our wedding, we sculpted two beautiful naming ceremonies that perfectly suited us while also appeasing to the religious side of things, without being religious. Here are some guidelines that can help you plan your own:
Have someone perform the ceremony
For my parents, having a religious leader perform the ceremony was an absolute must. As I absolutely refused the roman Catholic priest, we went searching for someone with a much broader/more accepting outlook on religion. We found the perfect fit with a lay chaplain from the unitarian church here, which is very welcoming of everyone. This, once again, helped relieve my parents’ field that our children are not baptized (in their eyes our kids were baptized at their naming ceremonies, win win?). Anyhow, it does not need to be a religious figure by any means. It can be a family member or a close friend. Whomever it is, pick someone who knows you and your growing family, and whom you trust to always have your childrens’ best interest at heart.
Pick and involve your guardians
I don’t like the word ‘godparents’ for obvious reason, but I love the words in Portuguese which directly translate to little mother (madrinha) and little father (padrinho). My sister and her husband fulfill these roles, as well as legal guardians of our squirrelly kiddos. We incorporated this into the ceremony, including my sister saying a reading outloud.
Choose meaningful readings
It’s your ceremony, so you get to pick what is said. Pick something that is meaningful and fitting. For squirrelly boy’s ceremony, I read Children by Khalil Gibran (and cried through the whole thing), my sister read a celtic blessing in English, and the mister read a celtic blessing in gaelic. For squirrelly girl it was much the same, but I wrote a passage to read, my sister read a quote on siblings by Clara Ortega, and the mister read the same gaelic passage.
Involve your family
We already mentioned involving our children’s guardians in the ceremony, but if you have other children, involve them as well. After their madrinha read the passage on siblings, squirrelly boy gave his sister a tulip he picked from the guardian that morning. You could have the grandparents involved by lighting candles or honouring your child in some way. Or, like us, you could have a call and response where the person performing the ceremony read passages such as “Will you honour this child and help him/her grow into their own” while the guests respond with “We will”.
Include family and/or cultural traditions
I’m full on Portuguese, the mister is pretty well full on Celt. A lot of Portuguese traditions are tied to the church, so we had to be creative. A celtic tradition is placing a dab of whisky on the child’s forehead. To incorporate Portugal (and yes, a religious aspect), we cut the whisky with holy water my mom brought back from Fatima. For Estie, we dressed her in my baptismal gown. As mentioned earlier, we included celtic passages in our ceremony. You could choose any that are meaningful to your and your family to bring in those traditions.
Each of our ceremonies concluded with bubbles, nibbles, and cake!