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Christenings & Naming CeremoniesCreated by Jane in Age: Baby & Toddler, Being You, Relationships
Not many babies will have their Christening Day all over the papers or be christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but every baby is just as important as Prince George and their christening day, when they are received and welcomed into the Christian community, is a very special moment for them and for their families.
Of course Christening or baptism isn’t just for babies. Many children are baptised when they are older and in the Free Churches ‘Believers Baptism’ will be when the person makes the decision for themselves as a young adult. In these churches there is a ceremony of dedication when the new child is presented to the community. For other church communities the parents will need to speak to the priest, vicar or minister of their own church or the church where they wish their child to be Christened. The minister will have a conversation about the meaning of the ceremony and discuss the what usually happens in that particular church. Some church communities have Christenings as part if the main service so that the new little one can be presented to the whole church community; some have a separate ceremony where just the family and friends attend, this is often in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter if you are not a regular church goer, little ones will be welcomed, but choose a church where you feel comfortable and where you feel you can speak freely to the minister.
This is the occasion when the baby is given their Christian names; much ink has been spilt over this dilemma, but I’ve always felt it’s a good idea to choose a second name or perhaps two other names so that if the child hates their name as they grow older, they’ve got another one to choose from. And often the name of a grandparent or aunt or uncle can be chosen as well.
Once you have chosen the church and the time you will need to think about Godparents. These are special people who will take an interest and care for the child and help the parents in the child’s upbringing. So, choose with care. Often, the first choice is aunts and uncles but treasured friends who have proved their worth by being supportive and loyal are good choices.
And then, you will have to think about the clothes! Not really important, and the old fashioned silk and lace Christening gowns have fallen out of favour, so choose what you want. However, you will need a ‘white garment’ to put on the baby as a symbol of new life, this is often a shawl or wrap and a nice opportunity for nannas who knit to make something special.
And then, after the church ceremony parents often have a little party to complete the celebrations. You could have this in the church hall, your own home or perhaps hire a room in a local pub or hotel. But it’s a lovely opportunity to share food and wine with family and friends and perhaps have a speech or two from a grandparent, parent or godparent.
So far I’ve written about Christenings but for those who do not have a religious belief it’s perfectly possible to organise a naming ceremony in whatever way you wish. There are humanist celebrants who will take a ceremony or you can simply gather family family and friends together, choose someone to give the name and chose special people to look out for the child until they reach adulthood.
And, finally, don’t forget the photographs. Choose someone reliable, don’t make the mistake we did many years ago and discover that grandpa had forgotten to put film in his camera.
So, whatever route you choose, make sure it’s a lovely day when the new little one receives a warm and loving welcome into their community.