Naming Day Revisited

It's over three years ago now that we held our Naming Day Ceremony for the girls. It was an amazing day filled with love and laughter and it's something I am really proud we managed to pull together when the girls were still so tiny and it was a major effort to just get dressed most days.

You see, it's not wildly popular here, in Ireland, to have a Naming Day. It was even less popular 3 years ago and I'm fairly certain that our girls' Naming Day was the first one most of our guests had ever attended. Cultural traditions dictate that a Christening (Baptism) is the thing to do when you have a young child, (or in our case, children!) regardless of how active or inactive you are in practicing your faith.

It's easier, in a way, to hold a Christening. There is a template, you see. Everyone has been to a Christening at some stage. Everyone knows what to expect from it and nobody questions the motives behind it. There is a church ceremony and usually a little party afterwards. Perhaps the parents might send the baby home with a sitter and continue the party into the evening. Frequently it's the first time 'out' for many parents since the birth of their baby. It is absolutely, a celebration.

But, to me, a Christening is the welcoming of a child into a religious choice. An adoption into a faith.

To me, a Naming Day is the welcoming of a child into a wider community. An introduction to their 'village'.

I actually believe that they are completely different things. That one is not just a non-religious version of the other. An excuse for a party without the piety.

It was highly important to us to welcome our girls to their 'village'. I have never written before about it here and I'm still not sure I want to, but let's just say, that Lile and Sábha were babies that had been long awaited. There were battles hard fought and nothing about their arrival was straightforward. When they were finally safely in our arms we felt we deserved a party. A celebration for all four of us.

But, for many reasons, a Christening was not right for us.

So, we decided that we would put together a Naming Ceremony for our girls, to formally introduce them to their huge extended family and to our wide circle of friends. At the time, we found it incredibly difficult to get information on what a Naming Ceremony might look like. There were things we wanted to say, but we didn't immediately know how to put it together. It was a labour of love to put a script together that reflected all we wanted to say about and to our girls. It is something that still moves me to tears when I read it. Because I meant every word. And I still do.

Nowadays, a quick online search will reveal numerous scripts and templates for Naming Ceremonies, which is wonderful and will hopefully inspire others to organise their own, rather than automatically assume that a Christening is the only way to celebrate the birth of a new baby.

It is being spoken about more widely now too. In fact the very reason I am reflecting on this topic is that I was approached recently by The Irish Independent newspaper to get more information about our Naming Day and we were even featured in a piece about current trends in this regard.

I was happy to share our experience and even happier to have a photographer sent to our home to take a photo to accompany our piece. You see, with all the kerfuffle of organising something that was non-traditional and had no template, we failed utterly to get a nice family portrait taken. In fact we are, in general, sort of rubbish at getting family portraits taken, so I am thrilled to have the picture above.

It will be our unofficial Naming Day portrait. Another non-traditional thing to add to a family life full of celebrations without templates.


  1. Such a beautiful photograph. You're a gorgeous family! It was great article - well done!

  2. Gorgeous post, gorgeous sentiment behind it and gorgeous photo!

  3. Gorgeous picture, lovely altogether.

  4. Fob photo of your lovely family. Loved hearing about your naming ceremony. We did the same for all three of ours and like you said, it was unheard of... my oldest is nine now. We held ours in our home, in our sitting room with just our (big) families and then friends and neighbours after for food. It was a struggle and a lot of work to create it but I am so glad we did, I still have all the blessings and wishes we wrote for each child, each very special and thoughtfully chosen.
    We brought it one step further two years when we did our own alternative ceremony for our daughter, again in our home, while her classmates were doing their communion in the church. We felt it was a nice age for her to mark a maturing, a recognition of a child with opinions and an awakening of her own spiritual side or beliefs. It was another very special day.

    1. Thanks so much Naomi. Your naming days sound very special and your alternative to the communion sounds lovely. We have been thinking about dong something similar when the time comes. I do think it's an important time in their life to mark. As you say, they have moved away from early childhood and are beginning to mature. The baby teeth are leaving them and their adult self is making a tiny appearance. It is definitely something to celebrate.


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