Naming or welcoming ceremonies.

As human beings we have evolved to be social animals. We like to get together to mark major events or transitions in life – birth, marriage, death, harvests and so on.

Some people like to mark these events with a religious ceremony, but humanists provide a non-religious way to celebrate life transitions that acknowledge the importance of the event for individuals, family and community.

Naming or welcoming ceremonies are held to welcome a new human being to family, community and the world and to recognise this small person by the name s/he will be known by. As this is not a legal ceremony, it may be held in any venue, and often takes place at home or in the home of a grand-parent depending on the number of guests.

The ceremony may feature music, readings of appropriate prose or poetry and perhaps a creation of a memory tree or box for the child. The memory tree is a picture of a tree with room on each leaf for a finger print of each guest and a signature. This becomes a memento which can be framed and hung in the child’s bedroom as a permanent reminder of who came to the ceremony. A memory box could contain notes or letters of wishes for the child written by each guest and may form the start of a life-time collection of memorabilia. A living tree or other plant may be set to mark the arrival of the new family member and whose growth will mirror that of the child.

Parents may appoint ‘guide-parents’ or ‘odd-parents’ whose job it is to help and advise the child throughout her or his development in additional to parental guidance. Sometimes these guide-parents will read wishes for the child, and of course, the parents or grand-parents may do likewise.

Although humanists celebrants regulary officiate at naming ceremonies, they are not strictly necessary, and the ceremony may be conducted by a parent, grandparent or other adult. Many celebrants are willing to advise on how this may be done.