Lifestyle

Rituals for naming babies vary

RITUALS welcoming children into society have long been traditions in many cultures.

In Hindu tradition, a male's first haircut is of great significance, Jewish boys are ritually named and circumcised on the eighth day after birth, and for Christians, a baptism is performed.

As Australia's multicultural society becomes more and more secular, those who are not affiliated with any particular faith are adopting and adapting such traditions to suit their personal needs by conducting baby naming ceremonies.

Gemma Hall and Chris Lincard celebrated the birth of their first child, Archie Elvis, through a naming ceremony late last year.

Of no religious affiliation, the parents wished to formally welcome their son, Archie Elvis, into the world.

"We wanted to celebrate Archie," Gemma said.

"As neither my partner nor I are religious, a naming ceremony was the perfect way to do that."

Gemma said the ceremony had been especially important as Chris was able to share the moment with the family before serving in Afghanistan.

"We wanted it done before he left," she said.

"He's going to miss out on a few things while he's away so at least he was here to share this with us."

Gemma said that the ceremony, which was performed at the family home, had been a casual affair with Archie dressed in a black and white tuxedo.

Beer, champagne and nibbles were shared among friends and family from 3pm until midnight.

Although much less structured than a christening, certain elements of ritual in the celebration were similar.

Gemma said that she would definitely conduct such a ceremony for any future children, as it created beautiful memories for a child to look back on.

Rose Vaughan, a Buderim parent who conducted a similar ceremony, agreed.

"We decided to have a naming day for our son because we wanted to officially introduce him to family and friends," she said.

"We feel when he is older he will appreciate the special gesture of the day and ceremony."

Rose and her partner Scott Andrews performed a naming ceremony for their first child Harper earlier this year.

Rose said a key aspect of the ceremony had been The Harper Tree guest book which was a tree drawn on canvas where each guest placed a green fingerprint and their name.

"I hope that when Harper can understand the meaning of the Harper tree, this will help him realise how many loving family and friends he has around him," she said.

Celebrant Suzanne Riley said she had seen a definite increase in the number of people opting for a naming ceremony.

"Even families who traditionally had christenings are now turning away from the church ceremony," she said.

"A lot of people have christenings because it is the expected thing and the younger generation is less inclined to do this."

Jo-Anne Pirotta and Travis McDonald, who recently celebrated the birth of son Ryder with a personalised naming ceremony, are an example of this.

After conducting baptisms for their first two children, the couple wished to celebrate the birth of their third child in a less structured way.

Coming from a strong Catholic family, Jo-Anne's decision caused controversy as many relatives disapproved of the secular ceremony.

"My father was quite put out, and a few family members did not wish to attend," Jo-Anne said.

Jo-Anne said the decision to hold the ceremony was in no way against religion, rather a more intimate way to celebrate the birth of their child.

Buddhist nun Venerable Drolkar also conducts baby naming ceremonies at Chenrezig Institute.

She said the openness and personalisation of such events allowed people of all belief systems to celebrate the birth of their child in a way which was meaningful but not tied to any specific affiliation.

"There's not really anything similar in the Buddhist faith so we've taken a Christian cultural concept of a christening because people want some sort of ritual to mark the birth of their child."

 

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Topics:  babies, culture, lifestyle, parenting, religion



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