It is estimated that 130 million babies are born every year. That means that 130 million names are given to these little individuals ~ each child is defined by its name. On receiving its names, this little person takes its place in humanity.
Every culture has its way of choosing names and its own ceremony in which the name is given to the child.
Searching for a name is a very important process as it’s the very first gift you will give to your baby.
Many people believe that the name can affect success in life, through their children’s working career and other circumstances, so they choose more conservative names or name meanings.
Some parents have the names ready before the birth, having spent many delicious hours discussing possibilities or many angry hours in argument before making a decision. Other parents wait until the precious bundle is placed in their arms, before deciding what names will suit this new member of the family.
Some families reflect their ancestry in the names that they choose, with the child getting their names from the totems and family trees of their parents. Sometimes the mother’s surname is carried down as a first name. Sometimes certain names appear in each generation of a family.
In some cultures, names are taken from events which happen during the pregnancy of the mother or shortly after the birth of the child, and in others, names are divined through ritual or allocated by other members of the community.
In our multi-cultural society, some families put together names from different languages.
Many modern couples simply choose names that they like the sound of.
The giving and receiving of a name is probably the first ceremony in the life of a child. Quite frequently the significance of names is emphasized by elaborate rituals.
In giving the baby a name, we give it an identity and signify its place in a family, in the community and in the family of mankind.
This is made legal through the registration of the birth and the formal statement of the child’s names. The birth certificate the parents receive when they register the child’s birth becomes a kind of ticket or passport to some of the essential services the society offers its members.
The parents usually have to present the birth certificate when they register the child at school. A copy of the birth certificate is necessary when applying for an identity document. If there is no birth certificate, as far as the state is concerned the child does not exist.
One only hopes that the parents consider the effect that the name is going to have on the child as it grows up. Negotiating life at school or in social groups is fraught enough, without the child being labelled with ridiculous or inappropriate names. We also need to be sure that the initials do not spell something embarrassing.
Stefan Zweig put it so well: “Names have a mysterious transforming power. Like a ring on a finger, a name may at first seem merely accidental, committing you to nothing; but before you realize its magical power, it’s gotten under your skin, become part of you and your destiny.”