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Christenings and other religious and civil naming ceremonies.

Susan Lawson
- Hand made Christening wear including gowns, romper suits and shawls for baby boys and baby girls. The outfits can be used for both religious and non-religious ceremonies, and are available in both ornate and simple designs.

How can I celebrate the arrival of my new born baby?

Most religions have their own ways of celebrating the birth of a baby. In the Christian religions, including Roman Catholic and Church of England, a Christening service is the traditional way of giving the baby his / her name and initiating him into Christianity. The baby is baptised by the priest who symbolically washes him / her with holy water. This represents the washing away of sins and rebirth as a Christian.

In the Jewish religion, baby girls are traditionally named during a service in the synagogue whilst the Torah scroll is being read. (The Torah scroll is the Five Books of Moses). This service may be followed by a "Kiddush", where family members and friends speak to give thanks and welcome the new baby into the world. Alternatively, girls can be named at home in a ceremony called a "brit habat".

For Jewish baby boys, the traditional ceremony is called a brit malah, or bris, and usually takes place on the eighth day after birth. In this ceremony, the baby boy is circumcised by a specially trained rabbi called a mohel. The mohel also officially gives the baby his hebrew names.

In the Muslim religion, there is no particular ceremony for the naming of a child, although the baby should be given his name by the seventh day after his birth. Baby boys are often also circumcised on this day. Traditionally there is a slaughter (Aqeequah) of animals - two sheep for a boy and one sheep for a girl - and guests maybe invited to a meal afterwards.

My partner and I are not religious (or we both have different religions). What are the alternatives?

Many people in the UK nowadays are not religious at all, but would still like mark the occasion of the birth of their baby in some way.

This can be done in an unofficial way, by organising your own party, for example. However, many local authorities are now offering Civil Naming Ceremonies, which allow you to celebrate the arrival of your baby with friends and family - but without any religious content. The ceremonies can also be used for adopted children and children from previous relationships entering a new family. There is no age limit.

It should be noted that naming ceremonies do not have legal status, so the officers of the local council that conduct the service are not offering a name registration or name changing service.