The arrival of a baby is a cause for celebration and an excuse for extended family and friends to get together to welcome the new addition. Traditionally families would gather for Christenings or Baptisms; Bris or Zeved Habat, or an Aqiqah, a rite of passage in which they are embraced by the chosen faith of their parents. But if you have no faith, how can you celebrate the life of the new child in an ‘official’ way? I met Humanist Celebrant Guy Otten to discover more about Humanist Naming Ceremonies.
Guy is a retired solicitor and tribunal judge who is an Accredited Celebrant of the British Humanist Association. He specialises in conducting Humanist naming ceremonies and funerals in the Stockport, Greater Manchester and Cheshire areas, as well as being a noted public speaker and aspiring author. He invited me along to a naming ceremony to see him at work.
We met at the Stockport Masonic Hall for the naming of a gorgeous baby girl called Charlotte (aka Lottie). Guy explained that Humanist naming ceremonies can be held in a variety of locations, from the garden at home, a hotel or a hall; he told me he finds local sports clubs are a popular venue these days, and after the ceremony there’s usually a family party for everyone.
Guy spends some time with the family in the run up to the big day, finding out more about them and about their baby. He works hard to make each naming ceremony personal to each family, filling it with anecdotes about them and how much they love and welcome their new child. It’s never a generic ceremony, it’s always absolutely unique to the child, which is lovely.
Humanist Naming Ceremonies are joyous occasions where the parents introduce their child to their extended family and friends, often choosing special ‘guide-parents’ to help them through life, giving them advice, comfort, support and encouragement.
Naming ceremonies are wonderful family occasions and Charlotte’s was no different, with one of her guide-parents choosing to say a few words, Grandma doing a reading, Grandad reciting some poetry and Dad Stuart making a speech. It was a real family affair, very personal and extra special. It’s just a shame Charlotte won’t remember the occasion, although Guy does provide the family with a paper copy of the ceremony as a souvenir of the day, so she will be able to read that when she’s older.
Humanist naming ceremonies are rapidly growing in popularity as more people identify themselves as atheists or non-believers. Having now been to two Humanist naming ceremonies, I can hand on heart say that they are the most wonderful, loving, uplifting ceremonies, and a very special way to welcome a child into the family.
If you would like more to find out more about Humanist Naming Ceremonies, or find a Humanist Celebrant near you, please visit the British Humanist Association website.