This is the last in our series with Celebrants telling us all about Naming Ceremonies – but definitely not least!
Hilary Channing is a Wedding and Family Celebrant who particularly specialises in outdoor ceremonies. She loves conducting Naming Ceremonies and here she tells us a bit about why.
Tell us a bit about your favorite Naming Ceremony and why it was your top choice.
My favorite Naming Ceremony was for a little boy called Benjamin. I chose this one because when I met Becky, his mum, we clicked immediately and over a cup of tea and a biscuit we chatted easily about what was important for them as a family and the values they held for bringing him up. She was local to me too and using an eco-barn for the ceremony so it all just felt really right to be working together. I managed to get a lovely impression of Benjamin and what an adventurer he was at only 18 months, so we wanted to integrate this somehow into the ceremony.
We settled on having an ‘adventure jar’ at the ceremony and everyone was asked to put their ideas for future adventures for Benjamin into it and mum and dad would then try and work through these with him as he grows up and of course a lovely keepsake for him. We also had a candle ceremony with floating candles which I always love as the grandparents get involved in a physical way. It was a lovely relaxed ceremony and a great way to introduce him to the family and friends.
Have you had any unusual requests?
What has been the best reading or song used in one of your Naming Ceremonies?
We used this one for Benjamin which we felt reflected Mum and Dads dreams but in a really simple and childlike way.
“What is a boy?”
A boy is an explorer from his early days,
Who finds fun and adventure in the most surprising ways.
He’s a builder of wooden blocks, a climber of trees,
A teller of jokes and stories, with a grin that’s sure to please.
He’s a friend of little creatures, like puppies, kittens and bugs,
He’s a player of almost any game, a winner of hearts and hugs.
He’s a dreamer of great dreams, the futures hope and joy.
He’ll bring you worlds of happiness, this wonderful little boy.
Has the child always been well-behaved?!
No! The first naming ceremony I conducted was for a little girl of about 3 in a village hall with a garden area. During the ceremony she got up and walked out into the garden and wouldn’t come back in. Eventually the parents dragged her back in and she screamed for the rest of the time. It did put me off doing naming ceremonies for a while but each one has its challenges – normally just really noisy children’s friends!!
What are some top tips for parents organizing a ceremony?
Keep it simple.
Have something for the little ones (guests) to do during the ceremony. One ceremony I did the parents provided little bags of popcorn for the children which they gave out just as the ceremony was beginning to keep them busy and quiet!! Others have had play areas so that parents can sit, play and listen during the ceremony.
If they have siblings I always suggest them getting involved with a poem or a reading of some sort. Introduce some sort of ceremony that resonates with the family such as a sand ceremony or wishes box – it gives guests something to watch and provides a keepsake.
Why do you think parents should have a Naming Ceremony for their child?
I think it’s a lovely idea to formally welcome a child into the family but in a lovely relaxed and informal way. It’s a milestone in life – like birth, marriage, death – and your name goes with you for the rest of your life or until you change it and because your parents choose your name it is all part of your start in life. What I like about naming ceremonies are that they cater for those with religion, no religion or some religion and unlike a religious ceremony they are completely personalised to the child and family. Quite often I find they are held alongside a birthday too so that makes them even more special in some ways.
I did a ceremony recently for a couple who had struggled for years to conceive so it was both a brilliant celebration of life and a thank you to their friends and family who had kept them going during the 8 years and numerous IVF rounds – very emotional!!