The arrival of a new-born in any tradition induces a euphoric atmosphere for the entire family, and many times the community and sometimes, even the world. Few moments in life hold as much wonder, and excitement, and promise. Months of anticipation and anxiety are quickly eclipsed as the baby miraculously appears. The new son/daughter fills the home with marvellous warmth. The birth of a child changes the life of parents and family members forever. Life will never be the same again.
With the waiting, the pain, discomfort and anxieties of pregnancy and pains of birth behind, it is time to celebrate with friends and family their new addition to the family. It also worth noting that although a child is born to the parents but belongs to the entire family.
A naming ceremony is a day chosen by the parents to welcome their new baby into the family and manifest him/her to the world. The significance of the occasion goes beyond giving a name to their baby, it is an occasion for celebration with friends and family around them, a time to give thanks for the gift of new life, and it is a time when parents can affirm their commitment to their child in the presence of those who mean most to them.
It is an important moment in the life of the newly born child as it marks the fact that the child is given a social identity of its own.
The naming ceremony is performed to give the newly born baby a name which will identify him/her and set him apart from others, and as a member of the family.
It provides the opportunity for family and friends to officially welcome the new-born into their family and the community.
It is a way of celebrating and welcoming a new addition to your family. Children Africa belong not just to their parents, but to the entire clan.
Children belong not just to their parents’ but to the entire clan. Naming ceremony may vary from area to area, but the idea behind them remains the same. They provide an opportunity for the clan to welcome a baby who in years to come, will be expected to play a role in the community- as part of a whole new generation.
The naming ceremony offers the parents the opportunity to introduce the baby to its relatives, serves to help incorporate the new child into its family group and community, and to reintegrate it and its mother into the world.
Among the Akan’s of Ghana, the naming ceremony marks the transition of the newly born child from the spiritual world to the physical world and breaks the bond between the spiritual world and makes a transition into the physical world. As it makes a transition into the physical world, the child is received by members of the family and the wider community with a rousing welcome with singing, dancing, food, and drink given to those who have come to take part in the ceremony.
The focus of the celebration is on the child- or children- being named and the friends and family that surround them.
People choose naming ceremony because they want to bring family and friends together to celebrate one of life’s key milestones. They are ideal for families who want to mark the occasion in a way that isn’t religious or Christians who do not do infant baptism.
A naming ceremony also provides the opportunity for those gathered to reflect on the roles that key people will play in the life of the child.
When does Naming Ceremony Take Place?
Naming ceremonies and the timings to be held vary from culture to culture. It depends on which culture you belong to. Below are a few examples for your information.
Japan 30days after birth (pollution of women)
Jews- 8th day for a male and, a female name-giving takes place in the synagogue usually on the next shabbat (sabbath-Saturday after birth
Akan’s of Ghana 8th day after birth
Hinduism- 11th (pollution of women)
Muslims -7 days after birth during a ritual called aqiqab.
Not withstanding the above examples, in contemporary society naming ceremony can be held for your baby whenever you are ready. There is no legal requirement as to when you can organise a naming ceremony. Remember though that there is a legal obligation to register the birth of your child with the local council within a certain time frame. The two are not the same and must not be confused.
Naming ceremonies are perfect for new-borns or toddlers and many are combined with a first birthday celebration. But they don’t have to be limited to young children. They can be held whenever you are ready. They can be held for your adopted child (ren). Naming ceremonies are perfect for new-borns or toddlers and many are combined with a first birthday celebration. But they don’t have to be limited to young children. They can be held whenever you are ready.
Traditionally, the naming ceremony was performed by the head of the clan or by a man of high social standing who will ask the father to bring out the name of the baby. In contemporary society, it has become like the norm to find a professional celebrant to preside over a child’s naming ceremony. There are several benefits for appointing a professional celebrant.
The officiant puts the baby of his lap and invites the father to bring out the name they have chosen for the baby. The father then either wisppers the full name for child or writes it and give it to the officiant. The offiant then announces the name to all the people gathered for the occasion. The people greets the child by repeating the name followed by a round of applause. The offiant then dips finger in traditional wine and drop a tiny bit on the Baby’s tongue or touches the baby’s tongue and say (name) taste this, it is wine, if it is wine, say it is wine. And does the same with water saying (name) taste this, it is water, if it is water say it is water.
This aspect of the ceremony is not without significance. The officiant tells the child to know the difference between the two substances. The goal is to introduce the newly born baby to virtues of truthfulness and honesty.
Libation is made afterwards as a form of prayer to the family gods and ancestors to ask for protection and more blessings for the baby. Family members, friends and well-wishers who gather to grace the occasion may present gifts to the mother and the baby in the form of money, dresses, beads, and pomade.
Absolutely, if you are using our celebrant or service. Throughout the centuries, naming ceremony has been celebrated through religious rites. The ceremony includes prayers- pouring of libation, thanksgiving to the Creator God, the Ancestors of the family or tribe, blessings for the New-born child, the parents and family and for protection and guidance.
It is a religious rite not in the sense of it being presided over the fetish priest or a medicine man. The head of the family was de facto spiritual leader of his clan.
Secondly, the early cultures did nothing without the invocation of the gods. They believed that a baby is a gift from the God or gods and that without their blessing, a woman could not conceive and bear a child.
In Islam, life is God’s precious gift, and the birth of a baby calls for thanksgiving and gratitude.
“No female beareth or bringeth forth save with His knowledge (surah 35:11).
The Jewish Bible contains a similar belief: For example, when Rachel, was naming Joseph, she made clear what infertility felt like:
“God has taken away my disgrace” (Gen 30:23)
The rabbis state this clearly (b. Sanhedrin 113a):
Three keys are in the hands of the Holy One, blessed be he: the keys of the womb, of rain, and of resurrection.
The womb is imagined as a closed chamber, one to which only God holds the key. For a child to be born—and perhaps even for the man’s seed to enter—God must turn the key and unlock the door.
Direct divine intervention is required to “open the womb,”. To put it differently, every pregnancy, be it the first or the tenth, is attributed to God’s power. Sarah, who bore Isaac at ninety years old, said “God has brought me laughter” (Gen 21:6). When Leah, still in her relative youth, bore Issachar, her fifth son, she credited God: “God has given me my reward” (Gen 30:18). For her sixth, Asher, she said “God has given me a choice gift” (Gen 30:20). In the ancient Israelite view, God is involved in every human conception. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gn1:28)
For the Akan’s of Ghana, the baby is learnt to the earthly parents by the baby’s spiritual mother parents. For this reason, they wait for seven days to go by and if the child survives till the eighth day, it means the spiritual parents have given their blessings to the earthly parents to have him/her.
The idea that a naming ceremony is just a social event is foreign to ancient cultures throughout the world.
It is the fragmentation of traditional social structures of rural villages, the spread of Christianity, industrialization have all contributed to the weakening of the main religious dealings with rites of passage. As a result of these changes, rites of passage rituals have come to be regarded as “social rituals”. Whereas village pressures and customs would mean that, for example, parents would feel obliged to observe the accepted procedures and rituals after a birth, the individualism of modern society has allowed for greater degrees of choice as to whether one carries out some or any of the practices.