Hosting a humanist naming day


Hi everyone! I mentioned in my Who am I? post that I'd share with you a separate post about hosting a humanist naming ceremony. I've been asked a ton of questions about the naming day from friends, and when my other half and I were deciding about what to do, we both really struggled with where to look for inspiration, so I hope this post is beneficial to anyone considering a non-religious celebration for their new baba.

Firstly, I have to say a huge thank you to the British Humanist Association and specifically our celebrant Guy Otten, who led Little R's naming. We approached Guy to host our daughter’s humanist naming ceremony after we held a humanist funeral for my late Grandfather. We wanted to celebrate the new life we had brought into the world, but in an informal way, so decided to hold a small private naming in our own garden for family and close friends. The ceremony Guy gave us was more than we could have hoped for. He gave us the opportunity to make everything so personal and because of that, we felt we truly honoured our daughter – there certainly wasn’t a dry eye by the end.

So instead of my blabbing on about how it ran, I thought I would share our script below. Guy provided us with a template, but since I'm a writer, I pretty much stripped it back to the bones and re-wrote it based on our little lady, family, friends and experiences. I've taken everyone's names out and just used initials, and not included the final reading in full, for privacy, but I don't think it takes away from the ceremony. I hope you enjoy!

Humanist Naming Ceremony Script

Good afternoon everyone and the warmest of welcomes to Little R’s naming. I am Guy Otten and, as a Celebrant accredited by the British Humanist Association, I am pleased to have been asked by Laura and Mark to lead this ceremony.
They have chosen to hold a humanist naming ceremony for Little R because they agree with the principles that humanists live by – that they make sense of the world using reason and experience, and base their ethics on the goals of human welfare, happiness and fulfilment. These are principles they wish Little R to grow up by.
We have come together in Little R’s honour today: to rejoice in her arrival and to look to her future and all the happiness we hope it holds for her.
For Laura and Mark, this ceremony is all about sharing their joy in their daughter and reflecting on life, new life - and welcoming their beautiful baby daughter into their lives.
Little R arrived exactly 7 months ago today, and already she has changed Mark and Laura’s lives irreversibly.  This is an important milestone in their life together, the next big one after they married three year’s ago, and as such it’s something they knew they wanted to share with you, their loved ones.
Little R joins a proud family with grandparents K and S and J and R, and Aunts and Uncles S and T, and B and J.
Ours then is a celebration of joy, of great pride, of hope for the future and most importantly of love. It means everything to Laura and Mark to have you all around them at this important time. They hope that everyone here will share many more smiles, words, laughs, games, occasions and even journeys with their daughter. That thought fills them with all the confidence that she will be a very happy person indeed.
When you arrived you were given a paper tag, the same ones Mark and Laura gave to you at their wedding, so that you could write your best wishes for Little R and hang them on the Wishing Tree here. There will be time to do this after the ceremony if you haven’t already done so.

You might recognise the tree as one of the trees that made an appearance at Laura and Mark’s wedding! Today it becomes Little R’s tree – her special wishing tree. The wishes you have written will be kept by Laura and Mark for Little R so that she will be able to read them as she gets older and learn about all the people here whom she has touched the hearts of, in the same way as she has already filled the hearts of her parents. And so Laura would now like to read ‘I carry your heart’ by E. E. Cummings.
I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
Thank you.
The arrival of Little R has changed Laura and Mark’s lives so much that they cannot imagine now being without her. 
They are enjoying watching Little R grow and change every day, and relishing the loving family and friends she has around her who have already supported Laura and Mark, as well as guiding Little R through her first few months.
To Laura and Mark, family are the people you respect most in the world: for the people they are, the values they hold and the impact they have.  In their eyes they believe life is full of choices and priorities, and these are best experienced with the support of people you love and who love you in turn. They hope to strive to create an environment for Little R which is close, generous and supportive, an anchor for her in the years ahead, a certainty which is all about love, without question or condition. 
For Laura and Mark, close friends are very much embraced within their idea of family too. They wish for two of their friends to play a special role in Little R’s life, the same way their parents’ close friends have in theirs. These two friends, R.B and L.F, will help guide Little R through life as positive role models (in a non-religious way) as her Guide Parents.
When Laura and Mark approached L- and R-, they wrote this letter which really sums up what being a guide parent is about:
When Little R arrived we felt truly blessed to have her in our lives, none more so because Mark and I knew she would grow up surrounded by the love of her family and our closest friends. We believe that a precious few will enrich her life in ways we, as parents, can not. We have decided to hold this humanist naming ceremony to not only celebrate Little R, but to also acknowledge those people who mean the most to us, and her. We would like to ask you if you would be a "Guide Parent" to Little R as R- your compassion, creativity and empathy for others - and L-, your charity, strength and kindness - are qualities we want Little R to learn, so that through your examples, she too can make the world a better place.

Laura and Mark are honored that L- and R- said yes
R- is a close friend of Laura and Mark, who Mark first met at University – they’ve been friends for over 10 years! R- and Mark lived together in their final year and was there to help Mark plan his and Laura’s first ever date. She was there for them when they first moved to Manchester, and even DJ’d at their wedding.
L- and Laura met when she joined the charity L- works for, and it wasn’t long before they became firm friends. She and her husband have been there for the couple when times were hard, offering support, friendship and many, many tools for their endless DIY!
R- and L-, I am now going to explain the role of a Guide Parent. (Laura to pass Little R to L-)

The guide parent role means you agree to take a special interest in Little R, to support her as she grows, and be available to her, but also to support Laura and Mark in their care and upbringing of Little R. By agreeing to be guide parents for Little R, you are making a long term commitment to help and be there both for Laura and Mark, as well as for Little R.
Having heard what the role means I ask you to indicate your agreement to taking on this responsibility by saying now ‘I agree’
Guide parents; I agree
Thank you for your commitments to Little R
(applause by all)

Today is not just a naming, it is also a welcoming of a new being into the extended family, and an expression of hope and best wishes for the future. Laura and Mark are lucky to have such supportive families and Little R now represents the uniting of the two families.

While everyone is looking to see who she takes after, Laura and Mark hold onto their first memories of Little R and how she has changed and continues to change. And so they would like Little R’s Aunty S- to read the poem ‘Thursday’s child’.

S-: Thursday’s Child – Anon.
Thursday’s child has far to go
Where life’s changing waters flow:
East, to learn how life’s fair dawn
Puts hope’s radiant colours on;
West, to learn how Trouble’s night
Stars the skies with hope’s pure light;
Towards the North, to learn of storm;
South, through all, to keep love warm.
Thank you S

When they think of the future, Laura and Mark hope that Little R will have a long and happy life, and live it thoughtfully and joyously.
They hope that within their little family unit they can provide a nurturing, fun and creative space where Little R can discover who she is, what she likes and what she is good at…and that they can encourage her in following her own path. They hope she will have wonderful friends (building on her loving family and guide parents) and that she will learn from them, be loyal and true, have fun and adventures.  
As long as she’s happy, they’ll be happy – whatever she wants to do they hope she’ll do out of passion, and, like their parents before them, Laura and Mark will always be there to support her because they know first hand how important loving parents are for shaping a child.
Laura and Mark would now like to make their own promises to their daughter.
So, Laura and Mark, Mum and Dad, in front of your family and friends, I ask that you make your own promises, declarations of commitment and unconditional love to Little R.
Speaking alternately:
L: Our darling girl, you are the first thing we think of in the morning, and the last thing we think of at night, and we promise that this will always be so, even when you may no longer need us by your side.
M: We promise to dedicate our lives to your happiness – to put your wants and needs before our wants and needs.
L: We hope that you learn to love the world around you and we promise to help you see that change may bring great rewards as well as challenges.
M: We want your life to be fuller and richer than ours, and promise to teach you sound, honest ethics that will lead you to follow your own path.
L: We promise to always encourage the very best in who you are, as you already bring out the very best in us.
M: And finally, even if our days ended tomorrow, know this – that the greatest achievement in our lives is you. 
Thank you Laura and Mark.
(applause likely)
Laura and Mark are very aware that raising a child holds big responsibilities. It is important that they are able to ask for support on occasions, and for Little R to be able to gain counsel from family and friends – people she can trust to go to as she grows. As S- said in a speech at her own wedding, it takes a village to raise a child. 
All of you here are Little R’s ‘village’.
With this in mind, Laura and Mark ask you to make an affirmation that you will, as far as you can, play your part in helping to guide and nurture Little R from a babe in arms into independent adulthood.
 I am going to ask you four questions and after each, if you agree, please say all together loudly ‘We will’.
The questions are:
Will you help to offer Little R a broad and balanced view of life? 
We will!
Will you encourage her in the virtues we all agree as good - integrity, honesty, concern, fairness and love toward her fellow human beings? 
We will!
Will you be a shoulder for Laura and Mark to lean on when they need it?
We will!
And finally - Will you accept Little R into your lives and welcome her into your hearts? 
We will!
Thank you. With all that love and support we can begin the naming.

Addressing her Little R, you were anticipated with excitement!  And you are enjoyed and cherished with love!

Your first name was chosen for you because your parents wanted you to be the only ‘Little R’ in your class at school, so you are not easily be forgotten.

Your two middle names, I- and M-, represent both sides of your family.

The year you were born, your Mum lost her Grandfather. To honour his memory, you were given the middle name of I- after his sister, your Mum’s glamorous Great Aunt.

When Mum and Dad were deciding on your name, they read that M- is often short for both Grandma’s middle name and Great Grandma’s name, so they decided M- was the perfect fit.

All three of your names represent three very different flowers. R- for love, I- for strength, and M- for the spark of wildness all children possess. Now for our final poem, please can B, K and J stand to read the three Flower Fairy poems by Cicely Berry.
(Readings here)

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, would you please stand?
And so it is amidst this wealth of love and good wishes for the future that it is my privilege, on behalf of Laura and Mark, to name you
Little R
 May you live a long, healthy and abundantly happy life!
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your glass and raise a toast to Little R.
All: To Little R

For those who have not already done so, please do write your wishes for the wishing tree. And on behalf of Laura and Mark, thank you all for being here.


I hope our script has provided you with some inspiration, if you're looking to host a naming ceremony of your own. We deliberately chose readings that aren't used commonly in namings or christenings, so I would urge anyone to take the time to seek out something that means something special to you and your little one.

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