Welcoming Babies (sometimes called Baby Namings or Name Givings)
In earlier times, the Christening was the time used by families to:
- welcome the new child into his or her circle of family and friends
- acknowledge the responsibilities of parents, grandparents and others
- acknowledge the baby's names
- appoint godparents, whose role is to ensure a religious (or moral) education for the child.
In some cases, godparents took on the full responsibility of the child when disease or ill health meant early death of parents. Our more recent lay understanding of godparents' roles come from that ... that godparents step in in event of death or default of parents.
Mostly though now godparents or guardians are expected to undertake a special and lifelong interest in the child's welfare and to support the parents in raising their child.
Becoming a more secular society has not taken away the need for a celebration to mark this event. All the non-religious aspects of a Christening as listed above are the focus of a Baby Naming or Welcome to Baby. In our multicultural society such civil ceremonies allow family and friends to be involved, even though they may have different religious beliefs.
This means the child may still have a separate religious ceremony at the time, or later in life. A civil ceremony does not prevent that.
Often a naming ceremony is delayed until around the child's first birthday. This may be for economic reasons - babies are expensive - or because the parents are too busy and often too tired to think about organising the ceremony.
Earlier may be a better time for several reasons. A baby can be more manageable than a wriggly one year old. New parents need and appreciate support and acknowledgment of their new status much closer to the time of birth.
Family and friends - Let the celebration be your gift!
Consider what you can do:
- offer to organise the "Welcome to Family"
- choose a venue other than the child's home so there is not a burden of cleaning up afterwards
- have the guests bring a plate and their own drinks
- club together to pay for the celebrant
- if the venue is an out-door setting, always make sure there is a good alternative for wet weather
Perhaps the grandparents or aunties and uncles would like to club together to pay for the celebrant.
A "Gift Voucher or Promise" at birth could be a great gift to be realised in a few months time.
Perhaps the Baby Shower is a the time for all the "Fairy Good Mothers" to pledge a Gift Voucher and help the new mum to be plan a Naming ceremony.
* “The only thing constant in life is change”
François de la Rochefoucauld quotes
(French classical author, leading exponent of the Maxime, 1613-1680)