To give a child a name is someting important and symbolic. A person with no name is extreme unusual. To give a child a name is someting diffrent from a christening. At a christening the childs name is mentioned, but the ceremony is religious, and not really meant to be for just namegiving.
A ceremony of namegiving, a welcome ceremony, the ceremony itselfs may have many names. The point is, it is a non religious ceremony, an alternativ to christening, to celebrate the child and the name(s) its given.
Why a namegiving ceremony?
A name giving ceremony can be the right thing if one does not want to christening a child. Perhaps is the wish to leave the choice
to the child when its older, or one just do not feel comfortable with the religious surroundings.
It is thougha human need to notice some points in our lives, to share joy, and give attention to a person in our family or circle of friends. This can be made by arranging a festival to celebrate the new member of the family.
How is it made?
Below I will tell about the Scandinavian way of looking at the nonreligious namegiving ceremony. That is what I know of, but I guess it may be similar in other parts of the world too.
There are no rules or "must be" connected by a namegiving ceremony, and the freedom of arrangement are very large :) Some choose to have a ceremony only in company of the closest family, but other want a big party. Make whatever feels right for your child and your family.
The first question everyone asks when a baby is born is; is it a girl or a boy? The second asked is what the name is going to be. The name is a important thing, someting to carry in all life. It can be someting special and contain a special meaning, that the child can feel proud of and understand that it is a sense and message behind.
In Sweden one can not choose name anyhow. It must be registered by the tax authority, in three months after the birth, where one consider the suitability of the name.
The ceremony can take place in choosen wished place. Anyone can be the celebrant of the ceremony, it just depends of the wishes of the family. A celebrant is the person who holds the ceremony. It may be the parents, or someone close. But it may also be a official person, in Sweden it may be someone from the City administration. Sometimes there are already such official persons to get.
In Sweden the Humanists offers non religious ceremony help by advice and also have persons that can be celebrants at some places.
"Just like by a christening is it common to choose godparents. They are chosen among family and friends. The godparentship is sign for a special close relationship." This can be read in "The swedish book of celebration" (Den svenska högtidsboken, En bok för alla 2000 ). " The meaning of the godparentship is fully determined by the family in every case."
Letters of Godparenthood is also conducted by the family but inspiration to can be found in the "The swedish book of celebration" (Den svenska högtidsboken). The book is made after the separation of the swedish church from the swedish state, and contains many texts, poems and songs. (http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Den_svenska_högtidsboken.)
By christening water is poured at the childs head. A responding act does not exist in the namegiving ceremony. Some choose to put a garland of flowers at the childs head, other other tings. Many plants a tree as a part of the ceremony or later. The tree grows together with the child and is it a fruit tree, it may give fruit.
The choice of clothes to the child, family and gests is free to make. It is nevertheless a important day, and many choose to keep it solemn and let the childs clothes have a meaning. A traditional christening robe can be quite right. It may have been in the family for generations and the symbol of a long dress, that the child will grow into with the years and experiense of living, is universal.
Program of the celebration
The program is free to choose. It may include text reading, speeches, poems, singing, music, and the announcement of the name. It also can include a motivation of the chosen names, choice of godparents and what that will contain in this case. Common is a concluding party.