Naming Ceremonies: Christening, Baptism, And Naming Days
Your baby will be legally named when you register the birth, but most parents want to have some sort of ceremony to celebrate the birth and the naming of baby. What better excuse for a party?! Many parents will want and arrange a religious ceremony: a Christening or Baptism, but an increasing proportion of families will opt for a Naming Day: an informal gathering of family and friends whose focus is of course the baby. Gifts for the baby are a must and we have a large choice, all of which are priced at 20% less than the manufacturers' recommended retail prices. You can view them here.
If you have been invited to a Christening ceremony you will be expected to give the child a gift. Traditionally, the gift was made of silver, but that is not a necessity in this day and age. It is popular, though, to give the child a gift with his or her name on it – a personalised Christening gift. This is after all, a naming ceremony. Fortunately you have come to the right place! We have a wide selection of personalised Christening gifts, and all are priced 20% below the manufacturers' recommended retail prices!.
A Christening will take place in a church. There are two main types of service:
- A Christening or a Baptism – The terms are interchangeable to most people. In fact a baby is christened, whilst an adult is baptised. There are also minor differences in the ceremonies.
- A Blessing or Thanksgiving – During a christening the child is committed, by the Godparents, to follow Jesus Christ. Many parents and indeed clergy question whether it is right to commit such a young child in this way, so the more popular ceremony these days is a Blessing or Thanksgiving. Should the child wish to be baptised in later years when he or she understands the commitment, then a Baptism service can take place.
Is the ceremony stressful for the child? Normally no, these days even the water in the font is heated slightly to avoid the shock of cold water! Having said that, my daughter screamed her way through the ceremony! We even wondered about her names: the middle one is Joy, which did not seem appropriate at the time! Her great auntie said the screaming was the Devil leaving her, so perhaps the noise was not such a bad thing after all.
Is a Christening/Baptism a Church of England or a Catholic service? - Either, in fact a baptism is the only sacrament that is shared by all Christian denominations.
What are the duties of Godparents? - Being a Godparent is an honour. If the family is religious then the Godparent will be responsible for long-term spiritual guidance. Generally the Godparent’s main role is being a friend, providing guidance and support throughout childhood and later if needed. A child will often need someone from outside the immediate family to turn to for advice and guidance.
Who can be a Godparent? - In the Church of England, a Godparent should have been baptised, confirmed, and be a practising Christian. In the Catholic Church to qualify as a Godparent one should be at least 16 years old; and be a Roman Catholic who has been confirmed and has received Holy Communion.
How many Godaparents should there be? - Traditionally, a girl will have two Godmothers and one Godfather; and a boy will have two Godfathers and one Godmother.
Is a Godparent legally responsible for bringing up a child if the parents die? - No. although traditionally this happened, there is no provision in civil law giving Godparents custody.
What sort of Christening gift is appropriate? - Christening bracelets are popular, and not just for girls! If you want to be traditional, how about a Quaich? This is a silver or pewter loving cup which has Celtic origins. Perhaps the safest option is some form of keepsake, especially if it is personalised with the child’s name. We offer many designs of personalised bone china plates. Or scroll through the full range of our personalised Christening gifts.
Are there non-religious alternative ceremonies? yes indeed. The number of Christenings and Baptisms has been in decline for many years. For example: the number of Christenings has nearly halved since the 1980s and today roughly one in ten babies will be christened.
There is no need to have a formal ceremony when naming baby, just have a party. The term Naming Day is increasingly popular and really sums up the day. However, if you wish to follow an organised structure for the day, contact The British Humanist Association. The format of the ceremony is very flexible: it can be held anywhere you like, and can include anything. A ‘celebrant’ will lead the ceremony and you can discuss with him or her what you would like included. You can still have Godparents, although the term needs to be different – “supporting adults” and “mentors” are popular alternatives. There is a small fee for a celebrant. Go to the website for more information.
Whichever way you choose to celebrate your child’s naming, don’t forget you have a legal obligation to officially register the birth with the local Register Office. In England and Wales you have 42 days to do this; in Scotland it’s a little more urgent: you get only 21 days!