Not all parents are religious, but when the miracle of life happens it moves a family to do something special. Having a rite of passage to welcome a baby in the world doesn't have to be a religious event; many parents option to have secular dedication ceremonies to mark the momentous occasion.
Instead of a religious ceremony, have a dedication ceremony to welcome your child into your family and community. Instead of scripture, opt for reading meaningful poetry that captures the feeling of the event, such as “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran. People in your circle of friends and family can come forward to express themselves and how they feel about the new baby's arrival, offering words of love and acceptance. Encourage guests to bring small gifts to welcome the baby, symbolizing their hopes and wishes for the child. A book may represent a thirst for knowledge, a blanket may represent comfort or a heart-shaped picture frame might symbolize love.
For a non-religious yet spiritual baby dedication, have a non-denominational blessing performed on the baby. These types of ceremonies (sometimes called "glistening") is similar to a traditional baptism, only parents will draw from non-specific spiritual or interfaith sources rather than any single religion. This is something interfaith families might especially like to consider. Rather than having a clergy, invite friends and family members to come up to the baby to offer their own prayers and blessings. Parents who do believe in a higher power but don't practice a specific religion might choose to name a godfather and goddess-mother for the baby -- adults who will act as mentors or guides for the child.
One of the more well known baby dedications used to replace religious ceremonies is called a "naming ceremony". In this ceremony, the child is for the first time presented to the community, and officially given his or her name. For the full effect, keep the name a secret until the big event. Often in a naming ceremony, parents recite their own vows to the child, committing themselves to loving and caring for the child. Big brothers and sisters may also wish to make their own pledges to the new little sibling. Naming ceremonies may include music, readings and the naming of a supporting adult, sometimes called a "guideparent" to steer away from religious term godparent.
Thanksgiving is a well known harvest holiday, but the holiday's origins lies in feasts of celebration for any number of reasons. A new baby's arrival is a big event, so don't be afraid to treat it like a holiday. Instead of renting halls and writing rituals, keep it simple. Invite the family over for a lovely meal, and give everyone a chance to see the new addition. At dinnertime, instead of going around the table to say what each person is thankful for, ask them to offer a few simple words of why they are thankful for the new baby.
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