Celebrant-led alternative to a traditional Christening
Many families would like to acknowledge the arrival of a new family member, but may not feel comfortable with a traditional christening. Using a celebrant to mark this special occasion provides families with the option to do it in exactly whatever way best suits them.
The rise of Baby Naming Ceremonies in the UK
In the same way that civil weddings have grown tremendously in popularity during recent years, so too have non-religious Baby Naming Ceremonies to mark the birth of a child, or the arrival of a newly adopted son or daughter. Whilst UK law dictates parents must register the birth of a child, this is a short beaureaucratic process, and parents often now look to follow this up with a naming ceremony. Since a naming ceremony is not a legal requirement (unlike a civil marriage) it does not have to take place at a registry office, and can be led by a celebrant, as opposed to a registrar.
What is a Celebrant?
A celebrant is someone who can help families mark key moments in their life, whether it be a wedding, a funeral, or the arrival of a new human. Celebrants are good with people, good with words, and good at setting the tone for any occasion. They will often have been trained by an organisation such as the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants, and will be experts at creating bespoke ceremonies suited to any event.
A celebrant will work with clients to create a personalised celebration, incorporating elements that are specifically meaningful, and in a location that they are comfortable with. The ceremony could take place in the local park, in a back garden, in the local community centre, or on the seafront.
Using symbolic elements and rituals in your Baby Naming Ceremony
The ceremony might incorporate the planting of a tree, the lighting of candles, the scattering of shells or seeds, or other symbolic rituals, such as a Sand Ceremony or a Candle Ceremony.
Involving significant others, such as God-Parents, Guardians and Life-Guides
It could include poems, readings, singing, the exchange of promises by family members or friends who will take an active role in guiding the baby or child on their journey through life. Some of these people may be taking on the traditional role provided by God-Parents, but may not themselves be religious. A naming ceremony can be the perfect way to acknowledge the important responsibility these people have committed to, by welcoming and acknowledging them as Earthly Guardians, Family Guides, Odd-Parents (!) or whatever term feels relevant.
The ceremony might involve older siblings, grand-parents, friends, pets – or anyone else who might be of significant importance.
Any religion or none – using an Independent Celebrant
Celebrants are there to help families celebrate in whichever way they feel best represents them as individuals. Since celebrants are not representing any religion, or humanist movement, they remain independent, and can be a great way of incorporating multiple beliefs, faiths or viewpoints into one ceremony. For example, perhaps one parent is religious, and the other one isn’t. For people who would like to incorporate some religious aspects into the ceremony, many celebrants will be happy to do this. This can be done by the inclusion of a prayer, or playing a hymn, for example. Or perhaps the ceremony might be used to celebrate using aspects of two different faiths, or two different cultures. A celebrant can help the family to form a celebration that feels respectful to both. The celebrant will help by creating the content for the ceremony, as well as leading it on the day.
Family unification ceremonies, also knows as Unity Ceremonies
When two people re-marry a Family Unification or Unity ceremony can also be used to announce and celebrate the amalgamation of the families into one new family. It can be a helpful way for providing a sense of security for younger members of the family, and to offer assurances and promises to how this new future may look and feel.
These ceremonies are not legally binding, and do not have any legal status, so are not formally recorded in any way. However, some celebrants will provide families with a written copy of the ceremony to use as a treasured memento of the event.
Since they are not governed by any legislation there are no restrictions on how, or where, these ceremonies are delivered, or indeed what is being celebrated. Celebrants are being called upon to mark all kinds of life phases now, including renewal of vows, new home blessings, celebrations of life, milestone birthdays, rites of passage. Transgender naming ceremonies for individuals wishing to acknowledge and celebrate their transition, are also gaining in popularity since the broadcasted ceremony for US celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.
The joy of celebrating special occasions
It seems that in an age of increasing turmoil, hefty challenges and varying pressures, people are looking to find special ways to mark significant changes in their lives. Oprah Winfrey said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” And it seems she may be right.