Cel­e­brat­ing a baby name

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - MAIKE VAN DER HEIDE

James Ian Ge­of­frey Evans was cel­e­brated high up in Marl­bor­ough’s hills, on an airstrip over­look­ing his fam­ily’s Wai­hopai Val­ley high coun­try farm.

Aged al­most 1, Jimmy won’t re­mem­ber his nam­ing cer­e­mony but for those who know him best, it was a chance to gather to­gether and for­mally cel­e­brate the new­est mem­ber of the fam­ily.

In the cer­e­mony, Jimmy’s par­ents Stephanie Gin­ders and David Evans recog­nised Jimmy’s god­par­ents, and shared their joy of wel­com­ing him into the fam­ily.

Stephanie says the cer­e­mony was led by cel­e­brant Heather Sorensen and had a semi-reli­gious tone with­out be­ing too for­mal. It was also a rare op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate Jimmy to­gether, rather than vis­it­ing in­di­vid­u­ally as of­ten hap­pens af­ter a baby is born.

‘‘It was a lot of or­gan­is­ing, but it was nice that ev­ery­one could come to­gether.’’

Years ago, it was stan­dard for fam­i­lies to gather in a church for a chris­ten­ing or bap­tism.

Now, nam­ing cer­e­monies are slowly grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as an al­ter­na­tive to a com­pletely reli­gious event, says Heather, who con­ducted her first nam­ing cer­e­mony in 2012.

‘‘It’s about cel­e­brat­ing and wel­com­ing a new baby into a new fam­ily - the ex­pres­sion ‘it takes a vil­lage to raise a child’, ba­si­cally that’s it. You have an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate, bring friends and fam­ily to­gether, get god­par­ents or spon­sors, so that ev­ery­body is cel­e­brat­ing that new child but also say­ing, ‘yes, we want the best for this child and we all need to do our best to­wards that hap­pen­ing’.’’

The cer­e­monies, usu­ally for ba­bies aged be­tween 4 and 10 months, may in­clude a read­ing, and god­par­ents or spon­sors may take a pub­lic vow that they sup­port the child and par­ents.

Heather meets with the fam­ily be­fore­hand to dis­cuss what they want, and then leads the for­mal

‘‘We hear of so much doom and gloom and to get to­gether in a re­ally happy sit­u­a­tion - what bet­ter rea­son to cel­e­brate.’’

part of the cer­e­mony.

‘‘I love [nam­ing cer­e­monies]. We hear of so much doom and gloom and to get to­gether in a re­ally happy sit­u­a­tion - what bet­ter rea­son to cel­e­brate.’’

An­other Marl­bor­ough cel­e­brant, Jac­qui Les­lie, con­ducts two to three nam­ing cer­e­monies a year and says most are ‘‘rea­son­ably tra­di­tional’’ and held at home with im­me­di­ate fam­ily and friends.

Spe­cial touches she has seen in­clude a can­dle-light­ing cer­e­mony, tak­ing hand and feet prints of the baby, plant­ing a po­hutukawa tree, books for guests to write mes­sages and po­ems as a keep­sake, and dec­o­ra­tions such as flow­ers, toys, teddy bears and bal­loons.

‘‘They’re just a won­der­ful oc­ca­sion. It re­ally is just a cel­e­bra­tion of the birth of a child and they’re just fan­tas­tic to be a part of, it’s re­ally spe­cial.’’

PHOTO: FILE

Heather Sorensen, cel­e­brant Par­ents are cel­e­brat­ing the birth of their child with baby nam­ing cer­e­monies.

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