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Naming Ceremonies and Traditions from Around the World

A baby being born is a cause for celebration in any culture, but the ways of recognising a new arrival vary from place to place. Our beautiful baby keepsakes are often bought for christenings, but lately, we’ve seen more of a trend for people buying for various naming ceremonies depending on their heritage. Below, you’ll find a brief trip around different cultures, religions and countries with an explanation of how they celebrate the naming of a bundle of joy.

unique baby christening gifts

Christenings

In Christianity, babies are welcomed to the church via a baptism, although traditions vary depending on which branch of the church you follow. A baby is named, blessed and assigned God Parents to act as guardians for the little bundle of joy, who is likely to be dressed in a white gown. A priest calls the baby by name, and welcomes him or her to the church and community, and the ceremony is usually followed by a celebration at home or in a hired venue. Silver-based gifts are often presented to the family, and our unique christening gifts can help with that if you have any upcoming occasions!

The Kingdom of Bhutan

Babies are named at three days old in Bhutan, but their name is chosen by the local lama, or priest. There are no surnames in the country, and first names are usually chosen regardless of gender, with an association to religion taking precedence. There are not many names to choose from, so many children have the exact same names as they grow up and through to adulthood. As such, nicknames are common, and their ‘official name’ is rarely used unless for formality.

Muslim

In the teaching of The Prophet, Muslims name their children within seven days of birth and do so on the advice of the Hadith. Within seven days, a ceremony known as an ‘Aqiqah’ is held to thank God or Allah. The baby’s head is shaved, the hair is weighed and the family must donate at least this much in gold to charity. There is a feast for friends and family in celebration, and, usually, a goat is sacrificed with the meat being distributed to those in need.

Humanist

Religion is not as prevalent as it once may have been, but that doesn’t mean those that aren’t religious don’t celebrate the birth of their baby. Humanists will often opt for a ceremony to celebrate new life. Gifts and well wishes are exchanged, and some may opt for reading poetry or singing songs as a means of celebration.

El Colacho

In the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia, the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated with a baby-jumping schedule. Babies born within the last 12 months are blessed before being placed on mattresses in the street, while ‘jumpers’ dressed up as devils cleanse them of sin by leaping over them. This is said to ensure that they have a safe passage through life.

Buddhism

A baby born into a Buddhist family is immediately blessed by monks who are invited into the house and will chant from holy texts. The exact time and date of the arrival will give him or her a horoscope created by an astrologer, which in turn gives an initial that the name should begin with. After one month, the baby is bought to a temple for a blessing and will be presented in front of the statue Buddha. It is at this occasion that presents are gifted to the family, and the monk gives a final blessing, before announcing his or her name. Some ceremonies use sacred threads tied round their tiny wrists to welcome ‘Khwan’, a spirit that is thought to look after babies.

Japan

Exactly one week after birth, babies in Japan are dressed all in white to take part in an intimate ceremony called Oshichiya. Their new name is often the same as one of their grandparents and is written down in traditional calligraphy for a beautiful baby keepsake to take pride of place in the family home. Boys in Japan are given a longer, more formal name when they approach adulthood to be used by everyone outside the family, and there is usually a ceremony for this as well.

Chinese

In China, it’s unlucky for a baby to be named before the birth, placing an importance on the naming ceremony but, as you might imagine for such a large country, ceremony traditions vary from place to place. Babies are sometimes given seemingly plain, ugly names to trick the evil spirits into ignoring them, before being given their real, ‘adult’ name later in life. The celebration usually doesn’t take place until 100 days later, when the baby’s survival of the crucial first three months is recognised. Generally all Chinese children from the same generation share the same middle name, and it isn’t until the baby is a year old that they are offered gifts, along with a tray of objects relating to different professions. It’s believed that whatever the child grasps is indicative of their future profession.

Australian Aborigine

The naming ritual of the child takes place during the actual birth of the baby for this north-eastern tribe in Australia. The midwife will call out the name of each of the baby’s living relative one at a time, and the name called at the final stages of the birth will be the name chosen. The baby and the relative with the name selected will share a special bond, and soon after a ritual is held where leaves are burnt to create purifying smoke for the baby.

Hinduism

The birth of a child in Hindu cultures is celebrated several times, and rituals will even begin before the baby is born. At the exact time of arrival, a corresponding astrological constellation is calculated to create lucky initials for the baby. After 40 days, the baby is taken to a Hindu temple for the ‘namakarama’, which is the naming ceremony. The name is announced by the priest, who also says prayers for the child’s good health and sprinkles him or her with blessed water. At half a year, another ceremony known as ‘annaprasana’ takes place, and he or she is given their first taste of cooked rice, and at 1, the baby’s head is completely shaved as a sign of new beginnings.

There are many ways to celebrate such a momentous occasion in a family’s life, and these are just some of what happens all over the world! These can be celebrated by those who have since left the geographic location of their heritage, but bought with them the customs and cultures to their new place of residence. If you have a naming ceremony on the horizon and would like to buy something special for the family involved, contact us today for more information on our naming ceremony gifts!