Celebrating the arrival of your precious child
What’s the difference between a naming ceremony and a baptism?
In Ireland, a naming ceremony is a relatively new way of celebrating the arrival of your baby with extended family and friends.
As more couples opt for a civil wedding ceremony, it seems that a naming ceremony for their children is more appealing to some people than baptism.
What’s the difference between a child and family blessing or naming ceremony, and baptism?
Naming ceremonies or child and family blessings:
are non-religious and are inclusive events. They don’t have to be held in a church. They tend to be held in the family home or in a local hotel or community centre. The ceremony will usually be created in consultation with the parents by a certified civil celebrant or an interfaith minister.
is an outward act symbolising a commitment to Christ. The faith of a parent qualifies a child to be baptised and raised as a Christian. A baptism takes place in a church and the ceremony is conducted by a priest or member of the clergy.
A Child and Family Blessing or Naming Ceremony:
The intention behind this ceremony can be twofold – to celebrate the arrival of a new child into the family circle; to let parents know that they’re not alone.
You’re probably aware of the African proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’
In my experience, letting parents know that they’re ‘not alone’ isn’t emphasised enough in our culture.
African culture recognises that parenting should be a shared responsibility and that all people closely connected to the child have a role to play – not just the parents but the extended family too. If we don’t have extended family nearby, we can always agree to be ‘family’ to others in our community.
When our child was born, we were living in the Arabian Gulf and as all our family lived in Ireland, we had no extended family around us to lean on; however, there was never a shortage of people willing to help and support us. Our child’s godparents were neighbours who proved to be incredibly committed to our child.
I love the Sudanese proverb that states ‘A child is a child of everyone.’
They took their responsibilities seriously and were actively involved in our child’s life into adulthood. They never forgot a birthday or special occasion, and even when they went on their own family holidays, they never failed to remember our child.
At times in our life when we were under pressure as a family, our child’s godparents were available to us.
I, too, have been supportive of other people in the parenting of their children because I know how valuable additional support can be to a child’s parents.
It’s important to see a child and family blessing or naming ceremony as more than just a day out.
Yes, it’s about celebrating the arrival of your child, and naming the child, but it can also
be an opportunity to invite extended family and friends to be a real and valuable part of your
child’s life. As individual parents and families we may be strong, but together we have