Why have a humanist naming? Marking the occasion

Non-religious naming ceremonies are on the rise, but why? What is the value of a naming ceremony without the religious element? The answer is maybe more than you think.

Religious ceremonies, certainly within the Christian traditions that I'm most familiar with, centre around creating a commitment from the child's parents and godparents that the child will be raised in the Christian faith. The other important aspects of the ceremony can fade into the background in this context. When you look at humanist ceremonies, these other elements, the psychological and social benefits of namings, become more apparent.

 Rustic wooden welcome sign surrounded by jasmine leaves and flowers.

Rustic wooden welcome sign surrounded by jasmine leaves and flowers.

The first benefit is marking the occasion. There are certain times in our lives that have great significance to us and humanist ceremonies exist to recognise those moments. The birth of a child is one of the most incredible changes that can happen in anyone's life. Most of us have experienced the sense of unreality or disbelief that can come with profound change, even for a wonderful change like the birth or adoption of a child. The emotions that follow when reality hits can be overwhelming.

Formally and publicly agreeing that something fantastic has taken place and what it means for those at the heart of the ceremony, validates their emotions. It means their friends and family can join them in their joy. By taking time to create a group celebration we provide a space for this validation. A ceremony also gives form to the expression of at least some of the emotions of having a new child or grandchild.

From the perspective of friends and family a ceremony is a moment when they can offer their congratulations to the family. They can show their happiness that the child or children are here and that they are welcomed into their community. The child doesn't simply show up, they are greeted with affection and promises to care for them. That moment of welcome has power, a ceremony creates space for the moment.