Humanist Naming & Welcoming Ceremonies FAQ

 

November 2016

 

Disclaimer: Please note that these questions and answers are for general information purposes only.  The answers are correct to the best of our belief and knowledge at the present time, but are not definitive.
Different celebrants take slightly different approaches, so please speak to a celebrant if you have a particular query or concern.

1. Q: What is a Humanist Naming & Welcoming Ceremony?

A: Throughout history, in countries all over the world, ceremonies have been used
to mark and celebrate important events in people’s lives. Many of us find that a
formal occasion of this kind can be very significant and enjoyable. At a Humanist
Naming/Welcoming ceremony the parent has the opportunity to declare publicly
their love for their child and their aspirations for the child’s future. You can make this
declaration among family and friends in a meaningful and significant ceremony. Our
ceremonies are very personal and your celebrant will work with you to put together
a ceremony that is right for you and your child/children.

 

2: Q: Where can a Humanist Naming & Welcoming Ceremony be held?

A: Many people choose to hold the ceremonies in their own homes (often in the
garden, weather permitting). Otherwise they are normally held in a local hotel,
community/sports centre or GAA club. Woodlands & parks are good venues too.

 

3: Q: What is the format of the ceremony?

A: A ceremony will typically comprise some or all of the following elements:

 

  • an introduction and welcome
  • some words about the joys and responsibilities of being a parent and the
    potential of the child we are welcoming
  • some words on the importance of the support of the wider family and
    community
  • lighting of candles by grandparents to symbolise the two strands of the
    family to which the child belongs
  • a declaration of commitment / vows to the child from the parent/s.
  • a formal naming (often with an explanation of the child’s name/s)
  • the appointment of adult sponsors/mentors/guideparents (a secular
    equivalent to godparents)
  • readings (poetry or prose or specially written words) from family and or
    friends
  • the giving of symbolic/personal gifts (ie a ball to symbolise friendship)
  • music (usually just where a guest or family member are musical)
  • a closing thanks and farewell to all those in attendance.
  • a memory/scrap book for the child where people can make
    comments and wishes and add drawings/photos etc.

 

4: Q: How long does a ceremony typically last for?

A: Naming/Welcoming ceremonies typically take anything from 15 mins – 30 mins, it’s up to you. Be guided by the celebrant you engage.

 

5: Q: How do we organise a ceremony and book a celebrant?

 A: Due to the current popularity of Humanist weddings, our celebrants can find
themselves booked up a year or more in advance for popular dates, particularly
weekend and holiday seasons. As naturally you will not be giving us as much notice
it helps if you can be as flexible as possible with dates and times of day. It is a good
idea to contact a celebrant to ascertain their availability before committing
yourselves to a particular date. If you cannot find a celebrant based locally, then do
try celebrants further away. Many celebrants are happy to travel across the country,
but will charge travel expenses. Your celebrant will arrange a meeting with you and
will be happy to explain how it all works, including the possible content of your ceremony.

 

6: Q: Is a Humanist Naming & Welcoming Ceremony the right choice for my
family?

A: Humanist Naming/Welcoming ceremonies are simple and personal occasions.
Humanists have no belief in a god or the supernatural, relying on scientific evidence
and appreciation of the world around us and the achievements of humans. So our
ceremonies are non-religious, secular occasions. They are designed to be a
positive option for those who share the same philosophical belief system as
Humanists whether you wish to call yourself a Humanist or not, and even whether
you are a member of any Humanist association or not. Please think carefully about
this choice. If you think you don’t share the same philosophy, or you actually believe
in a god or the supernatural, then perhaps a Humanist ceremony is not the right
choice for you.

 

7: Q: I am non-religious but my partner is religious – is there a ceremony that
will embrace both our sets of beliefs?

A: One of the tenets of Humanism is a tolerance for others who hold different belief
systems, therefore everyone feels included during a Humanist ceremony. A
Humanist Naming/Welcoming ceremony does not however aim to copy a religious
christening but is a simple and moving occasion in its own right.

 

8 Q: How much does a Humanist Naming & Welcoming ceremony cost?

A: Humanist celebrants are accredited by the HAI but operate as independent
service providers so do not have a fixed fee rate – please discuss with your
celebrant. Typically you can expect a fee in the region of €200-€250 (this includes a €25 contribution to the HAI), but different celebrants will also have travel costs to meetings and ceremonies to factor into their
costs so fees may vary. Some of our celebrants are VAT-registered and, as such, need to add 23% VAT to their fees.